– 11 min read
Branding lessons from Wistia’s DEI website
If your company doesn’t actively support and communicate a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), you’re likely turning away and losing talent. That’s because, according to a 2020 Glassdoor survey, most employees and job seekers (76%) see a diverse workforce as a major factor when they’re considering companies to work for.
Today’s successful employer branding strategies center on DEI as a key element. A well-written and designed DEI page on your company’s website can help attract top talent and foster a more inclusive culture through public accountability.
Wistia, a video software company, is widely praised for its people-first culture. The company’s DEI page exemplifies healthy communication as it applies to DEI web pages: a great signal to any jobseeker perusing the site. From the initial building of the page to the language and content they choose to share, Wistia’s solid strategy is well worth learning from.
Choose a diverse “behind the scenes” crew
The best DEI website are built by actually diverse teams. Why? Because diverse teams help represent a wide range of viewpoints and can halt bias that stems from even the most well-meaning homogenous groups.
When Wistia began designing their DEI page build, they intentionally formed a cross-functional team to represent perspectives from across company departments. They also hired external experts from Diversity@Workplace Consulting Group to guide them on their journey.
VP of People at Wistia, Jane Jaxon, noted, “It was important to us to have people with different backgrounds, focus areas, and perspectives as we looked to design a website that served a broad audience.”
Organizational researchers have spent decades examining how socially diverse groups are more innovative than homogenous groups. Their research showed that diverse backgrounds bring forth objective perspectives while also positively changing the individual team member’s behaviors. Since team members expected differences in opinion, they were motivated to better prepare for their meetings and bring fully thought-out ideas to the table.
When Wistia decided to adopt a DEI strategy, they formed a DEI Council to oversee and support the DEI work on their website and beyond. By embracing this strategy, Wistia was able to effectively cast a wider net to attract diverse hires.
Building a diverse team
When people think of diversity, they tend to focus on the external traits (i.e. gender, skin color, facial features, accent). Those dimensions are important. However, diversity can also refer to work experience, personality types, or specializations. When composing your interview questions or putting together a team, address these uniquely diverse aspects. You may also want to consider using a team-building checklist to guide you.
While building the page, the members of your team should be invited to share their perspectives rather than expected to carry the load of underrepresented people in your workplace. In other words, just because someone in your company identifies as Black doesn’t mean they want to be the spokesperson for all content related to the Black Lives Matter movement. Instead, keep communication open. Find out if this person wants to be involved or give their perspective in the first place. In some cases, the answer will be a bold “heck yes!” and in others, it might be a more reluctant “sure.” Pay attention to this, and make sure everyone feels supported.
Ensure your language speaks to every reader
Using inclusive language will make people feel—you guessed it—included. People are more likely to work somewhere they feel seen. Your word choices have the power to leave a significant impression on the reader. Since language is constantly in flux, it’s important for your company to stay informed on any language or grammar shifts in society so the impression remains a positive one.
For example, the acronym for the LGBT community has expanded to LGBTQ+ to include those who identify as queer or questioning, plus any other sexual orientations or gender identities. Wistia has taken note of this expansion and included LGBTQ+ on their DEI page. Additionally, like many organizations and news outlets in the wake of the 2020 BLM movement, Wistia has chosen to capitalize “Black” when referring to Black-identifying people.
Last year, the New York Times put out a statement that they would be capitalizing “Black” in all reporting. The Times’s National editor, Marc Lacey, said: “It seems like such a minor change, black versus Black, but for many people, the capitalization of that one letter is the difference between a color and a culture.” (If you use Writer’s writing platform, we will always remind you to capitalize Black when it refers to the culture.)
This is yet another reason to hire diverse people and pay attention to language. Words matter. They have the power to become microaggressions, causing unintentional (and often even unknown) harm. The choice to use a capital “B” speaks volumes to the reader, especially if the reader identifies as Black.
Given how fast language evolves, keep an eye on the terms you use throughout your website, job postings, and DEI page to ensure it’s up to date. If you want to see positive change in your workplace culture, your hiring efforts, and/or your broader community, conduct a language check on a regular basis to keep you moving forward on your DEI efforts.
Tools for inclusive language
→ Do’s and Don’ts Glossary of Diversity and Inclusion terms
→ Conscious Style Guide to empower you in your writing choices
→ Inclusive Language and Vocabulary for Startups and Tech
→Writer’s AI writing platform — Writer’s style guide tool helps enforce company-wide terminology, including inclusive language. For example, “LBTQ” is automatically changed to “LGBTQ+” (and even offers an explanation as to why this change should happen)
Use data to show progress
You can incorporate all the inclusive language in the world, but without the data to back it up, your words are empty. Transparent data about your progress (even when it’s not pretty) demonstrates a genuine, long-term commitment to your DEI efforts.
Wistia is not just another company offering empty lip service so they can get praise on Glassdoor. Instead, they share the hard numbers of their progress to hold themselves accountable and to create a trackable impact on their community. By sharing their data, they choose to be vulnerable and highlight both their strengths and weaknesses. Jaxon says, “It’s important for us to be open about things that we think could impact people as they consider whether or not to work for Wistia. For us, that means articulating where we’re trying to go and our priorities, talking openly about our demographics and progress.”
Wistia organizes its data in a visually appealing and interactive format. This makes it engaging to the viewer AND increases their credibility by offering a more clear picture of their current efforts.
This type of data transparency should be incorporated into your DEI strategy. Many employees today are experiencing statement fatigue, “a growing level of disinterest, ambivalence, and outright outrage toward companies calling out racial injustice without showing any signs of taking action.” Openly sharing your progress increases trust between you and your employees or potential hires. It also eases the anxiety someone might have when applying to work for you or beginning to work in your company.
By laying it all out on the table, you simultaneously set a standard for other companies in your industry and hold everyone accountable for their actions and promises. If you want to be a competitive company that attracts top talent, you and everyone around you will want to hop on this transparency bandwagon. Not to mention, making this data public will motivate you and your team to move those bar graphs in the right direction.
Wistia’s best practices for gathering DEI data
→ Track demographics like race, gender identity, caregiver status, disability status, veteran status, and LGBQ+ status
→ Make sure all demographic data gathering is opt-in
→ Explain why you are requesting to track this data
→ Tie demographics to engagement data and trends that inform DEI strategy and execution
→ Regularly report on demographic progress internally and externally
→ Share an annual report on overall DEI Initiatives
Hand over the mic (and camera) to employees
Use your DEI page to introduce your employees and let them speak on behalf of your mission and values. Not only will this build more trust and credibility for your company, but it will also allow a wider variety of potential new hires to envision themselves as part of the team.
For Wistia, it was crucial to let their team share their own stories. They chose to do this by featuring videos of their employees. In the videos below, each of the employees was asked to address questions pertaining to DEI values.
The number one job searching obstacle is a lack of fully understanding what it would be like to work at the company. Nothing can speak to that better than actual employees.
Employee testimonials are key to attracting the right candidates to your company. According to a Linkedin survey, “Candidates trust the company’s employees 3x more than the company to provide credible information on what it’s like to work there.” If someone can see themselves in the shoes of the employee giving the testimonial, that’s one leap forward toward a great, potential new hire.
Setting up video testimonials for success
When developing your employee testimonial strategy, make sure you showcase the following:
- Questions to address:
- Culture — How do people think, feel, and behave in your company.
- EVP (Employee Value Proposition) — What employees value most about you and what you would most like to be associated with.
- EX (Employee Experience) –— Positive day-to-day experiences that make people want to show up to work.
- Accessibility — like Wistia, make sure enabling captions is an option!
- Appearances — follow your company’s brand or style. If your company brand is casual, keep the quality, attire, and background environment casual in your videos as well. That means no heavy editing, scripts, or fancy suits necessary!
Use a DEI lens everywhere, not just on your website
For Wistia, their DEI work permeates beyond their DEI page. They take pride in the fact their product now offers features that are more accessible, and they are constantly developing ways to continue on this mission. On the Wistia blog, Chris Savage (Co-Founder & CEO) and Brendan Schwartz (Co-Founder & CTO) write: “Over the past three years, we’ve achieved gender parity across the company at all levels, implemented fair and equitable pay practices, and made our product more accessible. We’re proud of the progress we’ve made so far, but we still have a long way to go towards achieving our vision for the future.”
Building a DEI web page is a great first step toward making your company a more diverse and equitable place. If you want to take your impact on society a step further, strive to operate via this DEI lens when it comes to all your business decisions. Whether you can apply it to your service, product, or overall website development, the DEI lens should always be on your camera.