It is no secret that over the last decade, there has been a focus on prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion. We have seen this shift in the workplace and in all forms of communication. Your audience today may include individuals from various generations, gender identities and expressions, and races and ethnicities. So, whether you’re sending emails to your team or an external audience, here are some diversity and inclusion best practices.
But first, let’s go back to basics.
What are Diversity and Inclusion?
In short, diversity is acknowledging an individual’s differences, such as race, gender, and sexual orientation. Inclusivity is the steps an organization takes to welcome and empower those with different backgrounds.
Diversity and inclusivity are essential values for any organization to embrace. Doing so helps create a safe and supportive environment where individuals are open to offering alternative perspectives. This then helps develop new and innovative solutions that include everyone’s unique needs.
Why is it essential to write diverse and inclusive emails?
Whether you’re writing an email to generate sales or establish brand loyalty, it is vital that your audience feels involved in the conversation. The best way to do this is to start by acknowledging that your audience may encompass people with different disabilities and experiences who want to feel represented in a world that historically ignores them.
Acknowledging this factor will help guide the content you write and how you write it. It will also show your audience that you are trying to create an inclusive space where their differences are acknowledged, accepted, and represented.
3 Diversity and Inclusion Tips for Better Emails:
To begin being diverse and inclusive, you should first get to know your audience and workforce. Listening to their experiences and stories will help identify how to better serve, support, and represent them in your content and organization.
Once you’ve done that, here are 3 diversity and inclusion tips to implement in your next email:
When writing emails, it is easy to assume your audience only identifies as male/female based on the demographics found on your CRM. Unfortunately, many email clients have yet to include other gender identities, such as non-binary and genderqueer. The lack of options when choosing gender identity forces many to conform to the “male/female” binary. This results in the absence of diversity you see in your CRM.
So, what can you do?
When in doubt, use gender-neutral terms.
- Switch “hey guys/girls” with “hey folks” or “hey friends.”
- Switch “she” or “he” (when references your audience as a whole and not a specific person) with “they/them.”
Inclusive language also includes avoiding language historically used to discriminate against a group of people. For instance, “crazy” and “insane” have been used to belittle those with mental illnesses. Instead, try using “outrageous, bizarre, and intense.”
These are only some of the language shifts you should begin to consider when writing your next email. Make it a priority to continue learning and educating yourself and your organization on inclusive language.
Show Diversity through Pictures
It is important to use photos and illustrations that help your audience see themselves represented in your brand. Stock images are a great and easy way to create more inclusive emails. When choosing images, ask yourself, “does this represent a wide range of different people?”
If it doesn’t, keep looking! Here is a roundup of our favorite websites to find diverse images
- TONL: A diverse stock photography site with imagery representing different cultures, traditions, and individuals from various races and ethnicities. Monthly plans begin at $29.
- nappy: A free stock image site representing Black and Brown people. Images may be used for free for commercial and personal use. They have a wide variety of different collections and categories.
- The Gender Spectrum by Vice: A collection of free LGBTQ+ stock photos including trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals. Some of the categories that can be found in the collection are lifestyle, technology, school, health, and more.
Remember to ensure that all images have alt text and code for those with visual impairments. Alt text is read aloud by screen readers when a person has images off or cannot see the images. To learn more, here is an article by Boldist on “The Art of Writing Alt Text for Accessibility.”
Follow Accessibility Guidelines
If this is the first time you’re hearing about Web Accessibility Guidelines, this step might take longer to implement. At times, this might require you to revisit all of your email templates, brand guidelines, and design systems. In the meantime, here are some tips you can start implementing right away:
- High color contrast: Some colors might be hard to differentiate for your audience with visual impairments. Using colors that are high in contrast will help separate content such as copy and background colors. This is especially important when designing for dark mode. A great platform to test the contrast of your colors is WebAim.Org
- Use Large Font Size: For desktop, any font size below 16 pt might be difficult to read. With BEE Pro, the text size changes for optimal viewing on mobile.
- “Click Here” as a CTA: Unfortunately, we are all guilty of this. Boldist states “focus on what the user accomplishes or will get instead of assuming how they interact.” Making the switch from “Click Here” to something like “View The Shoe Catalog,” provides more context and it is easier for your audience to understand where they are being redirected without having to read the entire email or when using a screen reader.
For more resources on Web Accessibility Guideines, visit the WCAG 2.0. Also, make it a priority to hold trainings for your employees to understand and learn to apply Accessibility Guidelines in all that they do.
Bonus Tip #4: Continue to Stay Informed.
The best way to ensure that you are working towards a more diverse and inclusive future is to continue to stay informed. Some ways to do this are:
- Make it a priority to continuously get feedback from other people in diverse groups in and outside of your organization.
- Staying informed about political and social climate. While some organizations believe that business and politics are to be kept separate, at BEE it is important to stand proud of our values and continuously hold space and support our team through tough social and political climates.
- Get training on DEI initiatives from outside organizations. Some really great resources include The Communication Network, AVIXA, and Council on Accreditation.
Overall being diverse and inclusive is a practice. It is how you honor people’s differences through every other decision that impacts the organization and those you serve. It is not something you will conquer overnight, as this sometimes requires systemic change, but writing more diverse and inclusive emails is a small step toward the right direction.
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