In this 27th episode of CultivatED Marketer, hosts Brent Bowen and Matt Tidwell, PhD, chat with Kim Clark, a consultant, speaker, and educator on DEI communications, as she shares how she transforms the way corporations approach DEI policies, making it more than just a buzzword. She also dives deep into the challenges, opportunities, and ROI that come with improving DEI efforts in the workplace.

CultivatED Marketer Ep. 27 — Moving Beyond the Buzzword: Kim Clark’s Approach on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conversations

The podcast episode starts off with an insightful conversation on improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts and messaging. The guest, Kim Clark, a seasoned DEI educator, and consultant, sheds light on how the journey towards DEI in the workplace goes beyond just awareness to the need for substantial and tangible changes. She points out that while 80% of corporations have DEI policies in place, only 25% of employees feel a significant change in their day-to-day work life.

Clark emphasizes the crucial role of communicators in understanding DEI and articulating its essence to the entire organization. According to her, communication professionals have a responsibility to not just understand the concept of DEI but also to convey it in a way that resonates with the organization’s purpose, mission, vision, and values. She also suggests that it is important to have historical and social context when creating DEI messaging.

Kim also draws attention to the correlation between language and behavior, asserting that the former can lead to changes in the latter. In this light, the role of an inclusive communications guide becomes paramount. She discusses her experience working with Sony PlayStation in creating an inclusive communications guide, reinforcing how it led to a shift in behavior within the entire Sony organization.

Effective DEI Commitment Statements and Strategies

Kim then dives deep into the necessity of moving DEI beyond performative gestures to purposeful and tailored action. She continues saying it is about demonstrating commitment through consistent action and tangible changes. She advises that organizations should use their core capabilities to make meaningful contributions to society, thus underscoring their commitment to DEI.

Kim provides a thought-provoking and in-depth analysis of how DEI should be integrated into an organization’s strategy. She emphasizes that DEI should not be seen as a side initiative, but rather, it should be woven into the fabric of the organization’s culture, influencing every aspect of its operations and communications.

Inclusive Communications Guide and Measuring ROI

Kim shares insights about the importance of having an inclusive communications guide within organizations. This guide goes beyond the usual glossaries of what to say and what not to say, and instead focuses on how language leads to behavior change. Thus, an inclusive communications guide aims to provide employees with a context of why respectful communication is important and how it benefits them.

She emphasizes that it is not about tone policing or political correctness, which often come across as external rules imposed on individuals. Instead, it is about giving people the tools to develop their own understanding and confidence in communicating respectfully with individuals who are different from them.

Kim stresses the importance of tailoring the guide to each client or organization, emphasizing the need to understand and respect the unique cultural and social contexts present within each organization.

In terms of measuring the return on investment (ROI) of DEI initiatives, Clark discusses the importance of considering both the tangible and intangible costs. From a financial perspective, she points out that the cost of not leaning into DEI for organizations can be significant, impacting areas such as brand reputation, employee attrition, loss of sales, and potential lawsuits. She mentions a research study providing hard data on this aspect. Kim highlights that the cost of not leaning into DEI far outweighs the investment in it.

On a broader level, Clark also talks about the Edelman Trust Barometer, which annually demonstrates that employees and customers expect businesses to have aligned values on social topics. She emphasizes the need for organizations to be proactive and control the narrative surrounding DEI, rather than being reactive to it.

The Importance of DEI and Communication

Kim stresses the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in both internal and external communication strategies. She mentions that while many organizations have DEI policies, many of these efforts do not lead to substantial change, which is a clear indication that there is a disconnect between policy and implementation.

Kim also discusses the importance of working with legal teams to prevent DEI crises. She suggests using the DEPTH model to create an effective DEI strategy, going on to explain what each letter of the acronym means.

Optimistic Outlook and Responsibility

The podcast episode concludes on a hopeful note, as Kim provides her optimistic outlook within the realm of DEI. Despite acknowledging that progress is not linear and that it may get worse before it gets better, she emphasizes the importance of remaining proactive and inclusive in DEI efforts.

Kim shares her insights and vision for the future, noting that there is a palpable desire among C-suite executives to genuinely understand and effectively implement DEI initiatives. She underscores that by effectively implementing these initiatives can help promote understanding and respect, breaking down barriers and fostering a culture of inclusion.

Kim also addresses the need to recognize and address existing inequities within organizations. This means identifying areas where diversity and inclusion may be lacking, and developing strategies to rectify these gaps. It’s not just about ticking boxes or fulfilling a quota, but creating intentional, meaningful change.

Moreover, she emphasizes the role of communicators and marketers in driving this change. Their ability to articulate the values and benefits of DEI can help organizations move beyond mere awareness and into purposeful action. They can help shape the narrative, ensuring that DEI isn’t just seen as a buzzword or a corporate mandate, but a core part of the organization’s identity and values.

Ultimately, Kim conveys a sense of responsibility, underscoring the importance of each individual’s role in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. It’s not just up to the leadership or the HR department, but everyone within the organization. With understanding, action, and commitment, companies can move towards a more inclusive and equitable future.


To purchase Kim’s Book, click the following link The Conscious Communicator


(0:00:00) – Improving DEI Efforts and Messaging

(0:08:36) – Effective DEI Commitment Statements and Strategies

(0:19:31) – “Inclusive Communications Guide and Measuring ROI”

(0:28:43) – The Importance of DEI and Communication

(0:42:07) – Optimistic Outlook and Responsibility

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