5 Companies Driving the Diversity Discussion on LinkedIn

September 10, 2020

Recently on LinkedIn, there’s been a surge in engagement on posts about social and racial injustices. The fatal attacks on Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, and the shooting of Jacob Blake by law enforcement have upped the urgency for businesses to take a stand – as employees, candidates and customers increasingly expect them to.  

Companies are initiating discussions around #BlackLivesMatter and other social justice movements, bringing the diversity of their own workforces, suppliers and customers into focus as a result. Whether your company is just starting to think hard about these issues or has been for years, you can find inspiration in the below messages. These LinkedIn posts garnered some of the highest engagement during June and July 2020 as measured by likes, shares, comments and clicks. 

Here’s who stands out and why:

Four Seasons forgoes corporate jargon in favor of a personalized, thoughtful message

Posts with high engagement tend to steer clear of canned statements. This Four Seasons post is a personal address to “our Black team members, guests, residents, communities”. The company shows it’s thinking deeply about how to change, reflecting on things like how people act when no one is watching and how to be respectful across different cultures and backgrounds. Four Seasons also acknowledges that a statement itself isn’t enough, which adds to its authenticity.

UCLA avoids templated statements too. Rather than unpacking and going deeper as Four Seasons does, the university shortens and simplifies with an equally powerful:  “Black lives matter. They matter in Minnesota. They matter in L.A. They matter everywhere.” 

Bain unveils permanent change to business practices, training, partnerships, and funding

Consulting firms know how to make complex ideas digestible, and Bain does just that in its post. In seven bulleted steps, it explains how and where it’s committing resources to promote racial and social equity. A bold request to “Judge us by our actions today, tomorrow and the future” shows Bain is in it for the long haul and wants to be held accountable.

The Coca-cola Company and National Geographic also share their plans, both companies use the post to talk about progress thus far (a listening campaign for Coca Cola and a symbolic billboard change for National Geographic) and then link to details. 

Sharing actions you’re taking gives you more to stand on than just words. Acknowledging where you are and your commitment to doing more shows awareness about the situation and road in front of you.

Vanguard gives visibility to the Black community

Chief Investment Officer Gregory Davis tells his story in this Vanguard post, which does two key things: By amplifying an employee voice from the Black community, Vanguard shows proficiency in diversity and inclusion. Simultaneously, by making a Black executive more visible, the company makes him a role model both internally and externally. When people see representation at the highest levels of an organization, there’s a positive ripple effect -- it sets the ultimate example for everyone below. Some would even argue that diversity in your leadership is key to gaining authority on the topic.

Similarly Lowes puts the spotlight on CEO Marvin Ellison, one of only four Black CEOs in the Fortune 500. By celebrating Ellison’s ‘talk less and do more’ and how he’s doing things like promoting underrepresented employees and sponsoring minority-owned small businesses, Lowe’s boosts representation in its content and gains credibility in diversity and inclusion.

The bigger problem is most companies can’t show diversity at the top because they don’t have it — the number of people from underrepresented groups in the C-Suite is in the single digits. Putting the spotlight on employees at other levels of the organization can still have an impact. Both GE and McKinsey amplify employee stories – McKinsey shares Richard’s story and his role in the company’s global LGBTQ+ network while GE elevates Lauren and how she’s creating better LGBTQ+ visibility across the company. 

Shopify puts its money where its mouth is

Saying you plan to act is one thing — committing resources is another. But that’s exactly what Shopify is doing. It’s clear that Shopify isn’t just throwing money at the problem — its message conveys a much longer-term and thoughtful commitment, with these financial moves early steps in forging change. Bank of America similarly touts its $1 billion, four-year commitment to combat racial inequality.

Huge tees up its diversity data with raw message about accountability

Huge doesn’t just share its diversity data, it also explains the rationale for doing so. Explaining the ‘why’ behind the decision – to boost accountability and live up to its values - makes the company more authentic. The post is a good reminder to be up front about mistakes or shortcomings when possible because if you don’t, someone else will.

The takeaways 

Each of these posts has a different length, style, and voice, but they’re all still wildly successful in engaging members on LinkedIn. In their commonalities we see the secrets to success:

  1. Silence isn’t an option. Listen to your employees to figure out where your organization fits in the dialogue. At a minimum, acknowledge where you stand and why you’re speaking up.
  2. Generic statements and hashtags can feel hollow. When you only have words to offer, be thoughtful about the ones you choose. If another company could use your message, it’s probably not authentic enough. 
  3. Successful posts are grounded in empathy, authenticity and accountability. The best ones have a healthy dose of all three.
  4. You don’t have to be a diversity expert or have a big budget to add value. There are many ways to engage, from amplifying voices of underrepresented employees and customers, to sharing your own diversity stats. 
  5. Diversity can’t be achieved in one post, but engaging 600 million other professionals in the conversation can help to disrupt the status quo.

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