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Big Ideas in IDEA

CCDI Consulting's Monthly Newsletter

 

As you may know, CCDI Consulting is working on a new website with a new domain, www.ccdiconsulting.ca. It is scheduled to go live on February 8, 2022.

Fingers-crossed!

Website development is an iterative process. In the first phase, we are trying to make our content more fulsome and easier to find. In the second phase, we will be launching new features and functionality. More about that in the coming months.

This month, we have two articles on very different topics; digital inclusion and
religious literacy.

Ian More
Director of Marketing and Communications
CCDI Consulting Inc.

6 Tips for Digital Inclusion

In reviewing our website and its content, I have come to realize that I have a responsibility to foster a digital inclusion mindset. As I work through the old website, I have learned a few simple things that I would like to share with you that can kickstart a practical change towards digital inclusion.
Woman in mask working on a computer in a cubicle setting

1. Normalize web-accessibility

Think of your website in terms of a building. If your website was an office tower, you would likely have attempted to remove the barriers to entry and navigation. You would have installed automated door openers, removed stairs or provided some other form of accessible entry, and you would include other forms of assistance with modified signage.

This is how you should think about your website. Have you ever lost the ability to use your mouse when surfing the web, leaving you with just your keyboard to get around? Try that on your current website. How difficult is it for you to find the information you need on your website?

2. Provide alternatives

I started my career in direct-mail marketing. I sent out hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail in my time. In order to have a prospect take a certain action, I made it as easy as possible for them to do so. In the old days, I wanted prospects to pick up the telephone and call a customer service representative. So, I put the toll-free phone number in a prominent place. However, I knew that there are people like me who do not like speaking on the telephone, so I designed order forms that could be sent back by mail or fax.

The same applies to your website. Make it easy to navigate directly through your website without the need to interact with another human. And make it just as easy to contact a human, if required.

3. Use inclusive language

I have written a few articles about inclusive language before. In those articles, I talked about idioms that are racist or sexist, and that needs to be removed from your vocabulary. When it comes to digital inclusion, I am talking about ensuring that your language is simple, clear, and well organized.

I have a bit of a learning challenge, so when I compose emails, articles, or memos, I review the document using text-to-speech technology. It helps me to catch my mistakes (when I remember to use it). Using this technology made me realize that there are people out there that use similar solutions to help them navigate the web.
When it comes to your website, keep your language as simple as possible. Do not use jargon and acronyms. Keep your language clear and written for the audience you are trying to reach.

4. Rethink your content structure

Directly related to the previous tip is to have a good look at how you layout your content. Break up large blocks of texts into smaller chunks. Divide up the text using headers. Layout your page in a straightforward and logical fashion that flows through the content.

5. Use alt-text and/or alt-descriptions

If you need to include images, make sure that you include the alt-text field. There is also an alt-description option that gives more detail and is useful for more complex illustrations, such as graphs or charts.

Related to this is how you layout your data in tables. Ensure your data is laid out within a table so that the screen reader can be navigated in a logical manner.

Moreover, ensure that you provide proper column headings and row headers (if applicable).

6. Descriptive labels in forms

Remember when I said that I used to lay out my order forms so that they were easy to fill out to be faxed back? The same can be said of online forms. Make sure the form only includes the information that you need to process the request. Make sure the form is laid out with a simple and logical flow. And something that I tend to skip but will be adding to all my forms in the future is descriptive labels.

Descriptive labels indicate the purpose of the form and its respective sections and clarify how to operate it correctly. None of my suggestions are revolutionary. This information is gleaned from a variety of sources and experiences. Like most such content, this article is meant to get you to think about everyday things from someone else’s perspective.

This is a complicated world, and we will make mistakes. But each day we can try to make it a better, easier, and more comfortable place for others to live in.

Making the Case for Religious Literacy

As we return to work, fresh from our winter holidays, and set our IDEA goals for the coming year, I’d urge you to consider religious literacy as a key component of your IDEA initiatives.

In the IDEA realm, religious identity is perhaps one of the least talked about identities.

Hand holding a globe featuring architectural icons from around the world.

A study by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation found that only 43% of Fortune 500 DEI pages even mention religion in their descriptions, which is much lower than for race (95%), women/gender (87%), sexual orientation (76%), or disability (69%). And yet religion can impact so many facets of our organizational culture - everything from how we recognize holidays to our dress code, to foods at the company picnic or office potluck. As IDEA initiatives mature and we have more nuanced conversations about intersectionality, we can no longer ignore the importance of religious inclusion in the workplace.

Why we don’t talk about religions and why that matters

Historically, our Western society teaches us that religion is private and discourages us from talking openly about religion and spirituality. And despite Canada being one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world, as a society, we are woefully uninformed about the basics of the world’s religions. This makes it a challenge to gracefully navigate religious inclusion in the workplace. More importantly, our reluctance to engage on this topic can send the unintentional message to colleagues that something central to their identity is both unmentionable and unwelcomed.

What the research shows

We know that creating a welcoming organizational culture is crucial to a business's success. Google’s well-cited multiyear study on team effectiveness showed that psychological safety – the feeling that one is accepted and free to voice divergent views – is the single best predictor of successful, effective teams. When members feel safe to voice divergent views, blind spots get highlighted, opportunities identified, and the team’s creative juices flow freely.

Other studies bear this out. Forbes reported that inclusive teams make better decisions 87% of the time. They also make decisions more quickly and generate better outcomes.

McKinsey found that diverse companies generate financial returns that are 35% above industry averages.

And a BCG study found that organizations with above-average diversity in their leadership generated 45% innovation revenue, versus 26% for firms with less diverse leadership teams.

And yet a recent ADP study noted that 39% of religious minorities in Canada are reluctant to speak up at work – that number is even higher than the comparable number for women or racial minorities. In addition, one-third of respondents have
seen incidents of religious bias in their workplaces or have personally experienced them.

If religious minorities don’t feel safe to speak up, we risk losing their contributions and divergent thinking, and if we aren’t careful, we will also lose the ability to nurture potential leaders for our organizations. If we cannot create and sustain a welcoming workplace, our ability to attract, retain, and promote diverse team members will suffer.

What to do next

Educate yourself about the importance of religious literacy

If this isn’t an area you feel confident in, we invite you to start reading. Check out blogs, podcasts and articles on religious inclusion, follow thought leaders on social media and start opening conversations in your own circle. If you need a bit of extra help, Encounter has a variety of resources to help you learn more.

Assess your situation and your capacity

How religiously literate is your leadership team? And do they understand the importance of religious literacy in the workplace?

Ask for help if you need it

Because religion isn’t something we talk about freely, your organization may need some support in opening up these important conversations and learning from one another.

Set your goals

Whether you want to improve results from employee surveys, increase diversity in your leadership ranks, offer religious literacy training for your teams, or put supports in place for a more welcoming culture, it is crucial that you define your goals.

Find your champions

Every successful initiative needs a leader. You probably already have team members who are passionate about inclusion, have lived experience with religious diversity and inclusion, and who are committed to creating a welcoming workplace. 

This is a great opportunity to tap into the enthusiasm of future leaders as well.

Keep the conversations going

Consider what you might need to nurture the conversations. Training programs, roundtables, working groups, and community involvement are all ways to increase social connections and literacy – both of which are crucial to creating a welcoming culture.

Brian Carwana is the Executive Director of Encounter World Religions, which provides religious literacy programs to workplaces, schools, and individuals, opening the door to understanding and connection. Encounter supports organizations as they work towards a culture of meaningful inclusion and belonging. Learn more at www.worldreligions.ca.

Encounter is offering CCDI newsletter readers a $50 discount on its upcoming presentation “Making the Case of Religious Literacy” on February 16th, 2022. Learn more about why religious literacy is so important in the workplace and gain the knowledge and confidence you need to begin important conversations about religious inclusion in your organization.
Register here for “Marking the Case for Religious Literacy” and use code CCDI2022 for a discount.

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