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Engaging All: Effectively Communicating DEI to the Frontline

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  • Advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace is dynamic work in many organizations. And yet, many DEI efforts can exclude employees on the frontline who can also benefit from such efforts. Research shows that frontline employees, specifically those who are hourly, report the lowest overall feelings of inclusion – especially Black and Latino employees, who represent more than a quarter of the frontline workforce.

    This lack of inclusion leads to a disconnect between frontline employees and their organizations. A 2021 survey of more than 8,000 frontline employees found that only 55% of frontline workers felt connected to their organization, and 51% believe their organization sees them as less important than those in corporate roles.

    For a DEI strategy to be fully effective, it must reach and serve the whole workforce, including frontline employees, a population that represents 112 million workers or 70% of the U.S. workforce. When all employees see, hear and experience DEI efforts, they are more likely to feel they belong. However, achieving this holistic reach and engagement for frontline employees can be challenging for several reasons, such as employees having different work schedules, levels of technology access and proficiency in English – the language most commonly used in corporate communications.

    To authentically and more fully engage the frontline in DEI efforts, organizations are actively seeking ways to better communicate, increase participation and advance change. Based on Expanding Equity research and experience, this guide provides a step-by-step approach for tailoring your communications strategy to better engage frontline workers in DEI efforts and shares examples of what is working for other organizations and could be adapted for your organization.

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