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Driving Inclusion Through Effective Communication: 5 Strategies for Financial Leaders

Brooke Stovall
Apr 18, 2024

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) are more than just buzzwords; they are essential components of a successful and sustainable business. As we celebrate National Diversity Awareness Month, I want to talk about the positive impact leaders can have on DEIB within their organizations.

Tede Forman, Vice President and President of Payment Solutions at Jack Henry™, summarized things well, saying, “Diverse talent brings individuals to our organization with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives – really helping us remain innovative and be more well-rounded as a company.”

Jack Henry leaders recently participated in professional development opportunities to better understand the pivotal role effective communication plays in fostering an inclusive environment. In December 2023, I spent time with our Corporate Leadership Team discussing how to engage in conversations around DEIB, even if they are challenging or uncomfortable. In addition, all people leaders attended an inclusive hiring workshop, where they learned best practices to increase diversity responsibly through inclusive hiring.

Here are five key strategies for leaders to enhance their communication efforts and promote DEIB within their organizations:

  1. Embrace transparent and authentic communication.
    Transparency and authenticity are fundamental pillars of effective communication. According to a survey conducted by Edelman, 86% of employees agree that CEOs should publicly address social issues and communicate transparently about them. By openly discussing DEIB initiatives, leaders demonstrate their commitment to fostering an inclusive culture. Transparent communication also involves acknowledging challenges and soliciting feedback from employees to co-create solutions.
  2. Actively listen.
    Effective communication goes beyond conveying messages; it involves active listening and empathy. Research from the Center for Creative Leadership suggests that empathetic leaders are more likely to create inclusive work environments where diverse perspectives are valued. Leaders should actively listen to their team members, validate their experiences, and demonstrate empathy to foster trust and psychological safety.
  3. Use inclusive language and messaging.
    The language we use can either reinforce or challenge existing power dynamics and biases. Leaders should be mindful of their language and messaging to ensure they are inclusive and respectful. The American Psychological Association has a comprehensive language guide to help you be an inclusive communicator.
  4. Tell your story.
    Storytelling is a powerful strategy, particularly for DEIB. It allows leaders to connect with their audience on a deeper emotional level and convey complex concepts in a relatable and accessible manner. By sharing personal anecdotes and real-life examples, you can bring humanity into the conversation to break down barriers, challenge biases, and foster a sense of belonging. Check out the video below for a great example of storytelling from our Business Innovation Group leaders at our January Town Hall:

  5. Be uncomfortable. Conversations around topics in the DEIB space may cause discomfort. They aren’t always easy, but these conversations aren’t optional. Built In recently held a panel discussion with leaders from various tech companies who shared that leaders must talk about DEIB because “silence is louder than words.”

Effective communication is a cornerstone of driving inclusion within the financial sector. By implementing strategic communication practices, leaders can not only drive inclusion, but also cultivate a culture where every individual feels valued and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents.

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