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Visuals Matter: Using Imagery to Promote and Support Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

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By Kriz Bell

Kriz Bell lends her storytelling skills to the orgs who need them most. A traveler, blogger and single mom, she believes that #RepresentationMatters. She is always thrilled about using her power for good, prioritizing underrepresented stories and voices. Find her online as @krizbell

Representing Accessibility, Diversity and Inclusion

Prioritizing diversity and inclusion programs is an important way that organizations can share their values. In order for D&I programs to reach their targets, the effort must not only be supported internally, but communicate the organizational values with clarity and authenticity.

Campaigns must resonate with and reflect the audiences they represent, both internal (employees) and external (customers). The effort must go beyond HR and MarComm teams exclusively. Empathy and bias training along with digital accessibility are key in advancing D&I. How campaigns are executed plays a crucial role in ensuring that collateral and communications are a genuine reflection of the organization’s’ efforts.

Representation matters

Intersectionality and visuals can shape the perception of your organization, who is recruited, who is retained and who supports the brand. Visuals have the pressure of the first impression and carry the value of lasting impressions. Imagery doesn’t do the whole job, but it’s important that visuals communicate the right ideas.

To successfully accomplish these tasks without compromise or miscommunication, requires specific effort and attention to the visual details of diversity and inclusion. Sensitive and consistent execution of diverse and inclusive imagery can make the difference in how an organization connects with audiences, including whether or not employees and potential customers resonate with marketing and outreach efforts.

The goal is to connect with audiences, external and internal, with integrity and authenticity. Inclusive images that reflect a diverse audience doesn’t require a marketing degree and a Public Relations team, though it’s not a bad idea to consult one if resources are available. if campaigns are limited by timing and / or budget restrictions, there are a resources to support design efforts:

  1. Continuity is a must from the About Us page through purchase and promotion. Make sure that the images used are consistent throughout the organization. From Human Resources and the C-Suite through Sales and Marketing teams, continuity must be a priority. Any gaps between the internal and external messaging, can be construed as mixed messages, can potentially harm the brand.
  2. Update your MarComm Messaging and brand Guidelines with a consultancy or a multi-cultural marketing firm. It’s imperative that images as well as brand storytelling / narratives reflect the D&I efforts of the larger organization.
  3. Continuity is also key in communications strategy. Be sure to read between the lines of your copy and ensure that the messaging and positioning are in agreement. The visuals must be congruent with supporting copy. Authenticity cannot be undervalued. Half-hearted or insensitive attempts at D&I are easily exposed through inconsistencies revealed in the gaps between images and text.
  4. To recruit a wide range of applicants or even target diverse audiences, they must see themselves in your product, PR and HR collateral. Find diverse stock photos (see resources below) to use or better yet budget and schedule photo shoots of your in-house diverse and inclusive teams to showcase where your org places values and walks the walk or prioritizing representation. The expense will pay off in your recruitment and retention of diverse candidates and open your brand up to authentic connections across multiple markets and diverse target audiences. Sensitivity to differences in culture, age, gender, race and ability, among others, is vital.
  5. To support diverse and inclusive design efforts there are a number of visual resources available online:

Organizations large and small have to be their own champions. Values reflected through images shared across channels will pay dividends by communicating representation as a top priority. How is your org showing that it values accessibility, inclusion and diversity?

About Change Catalyst:

Change Catalyst empowers diverse, inclusive and sustainable tech innovation — through education, community engagement and mentorship. Change Catalyst is a Certified B Corp, winning the “Best for the World”​ award for community impact in 2014 and “Best in the World”​ overall in 2015.

Tech Inclusion:

Our Tech Inclusion programs explore and develop innovative solutions to tech diversity and inclusion. We partner with the tech community to solve diversity and inclusion together through conferences, career fairs, strategic consulting and training. Our work spans the full tech ecosystem, including: Education, Workplace, Entrepreneurship and Policy.

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