Last month, I spent time talking to multicultural communications experts Bernadette Morris, LaTricia Harper Woods, and Christina Yumul to prepare for our webinar on Multicultural Communications. One of the things we discussed was that many people consider multicultural communications to be solely about race when, in fact, multiculturalism means many cultures. This term includes people of diverse age groups, people who have a different sexual orientation, people of different races, and even comprises political views.
We are often defined by who we are, and what we look like when, in fact, who we are is made up of so much more. I was watching "Good Girls Revolt" on Amazon Prime, where one of the characters, a news researcher, was talking about the magazine she worked for, she described it as a “white magazine.” The fictional magazine wrote a news story about the Black Panthers. The researcher went on to say, “Was anyone who researched or wrote the article anything but white, did anyone reach out to anyone of color to get their opinion or feedback about the article?” I think that quote ultimately sums up multicultural communication.
Before writing your communications, please consider the following questions: Is your communication written by or, at the very least, reviewed and commented on by your intended audience? Are you the right person to be writing for a multicultural audience? Be reflective, do you have an authentic point of view that resonates with your reader? Have you considered all aspects and all audiences who might read your communication?
You may be wondering at this point how a privileged white person can relate to multiculturalism? Here’s my answer to that question. I am a woman, well over 40, who identifies as a lesbian. Although my ethnicity might not make me seem like I have anything to say about multicultural communication, I feel I can wax poetic about ageism and prejudice against LBGT people. I am keenly aware that while there are aspects I can speak to, there are many I cannot, such as the experience of being Black, or Asian, or Latinx.
Our webinar focused on how to create an authentic conversation with diverse audiences. I learned so much from our experts and wanted to share my top takeaways.
1. Does your company reflect your audience? This is one question that is not asked enough, in my opinion. Christina pushed our audience to understand the importance of practicing what you preach. If your company does not reflect your audience, how do you fix this? Think about your recruiting and hiring practices. If you want to reach a young Latinx population, one of the fastest-growing populations in America, you need to hire them. If you are trying to reach older people, you need to keep them in your organization and value what they can contribute.
2. Join diverse business organizations. This is an excellent suggestion provided by LaTricia, as it is a starting point for building authentic business relationships. You can learn and have resources available to you who can vet your communications.
3. What does the future of your company look like? Bernadette asked us to think about what the future can hold. If you truly want to do multicultural communication, then it is important to create a “stress-free” conversation to discuss options. By creating guidelines for discussions, have the diversity team report to the CEO, and having access to other C-suite executives will create the opportunity for success.
Multicultural communication doesn’t need to be perfect. But it does need to be authentic. It does need to reflect the voice and the sentiment of your audience and, ideally, your internal corporate culture. Like all communication strategies, it is not a one-off effort, it needs to be thoughtful and consistent. In this very diverse world we live in, it is important for organizations that are not embracing this type of conversation to get started. It is not just about diversity but, as Bernadette stated, it is also about inclusion. If your company doesn’t reflect your audience, maybe it is time to re-think what you are doing and start changing now.
Download our whitepaper, Having Multicultural Conversations That Matter.
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