We’ve been working with BAE Systems for four years as an extension of the communications team, supporting a wide range of activities. We were asked to work alongside the diversity and inclusion team on a campaign around its Inclusion Week, which coincides with the UK’s National Inclusion Week. For BAE Systems, this week is an opportunity to focus on everyday inclusion and what we can all do to create a positive and respectful working environment. The company wanted colleagues across the UK, Europe, Australia and Saudi Arabia to have meaningful conversations about what inclusion means – so that together, they can keep building a workplace in which everyone can be themselves, be their best, collaborate and thrive.
BAE Systems wanted to delve into the topic of belonging and what it means – not just for people in underrepresented groups – but for everyone. They chose the theme of music preferences to start the conversation about differences and similarities within teams that were often reluctant to talk about feelings. We were tasked with bringing it to life with eye-catching design and communication materials. Advita Patel (communications consultant) and Adam Mitchinson (brand design consultant), part of the Redefining Communications collective, brought their expertise to the project.
To make sure the Inclusion Week messaging was relevant and relatable, the campaign centred around 45-minute conversations held by line managers with their teams. With supporting materials that enabled teams to engage either face to face, on the “shop floor”, virtually or in a hybrid environment, the conversations addressed how we’re different and how that makes us stronger.
With desired outcomes in mind, we worked with the client on the structure and look and feel of the communication and various assets. We wanted to create visuals that employees hadn’t seen before – something engaging that stood out from other communication – while aligning with the BAE Systems brand.
We chose contrasting styles of music and musicians to link to the workshop activity. Posters asked: “Beethoven or Bowie”, “Dolly Parton or Daft Punk” to stimulate the conversation and show that you can have different tastes, interests and likes, and still work together to make sure everyone feels they belong. The client wanted employees to get to know each other better, become more aware of diverse groups, and consider the benefits of diversity within their own team.
Assets included a presentation deck for managers to use to help guide a conversation on why diversity is important and why it makes a stronger team. As well as promotional communication in the form of posters, digital screens in the cafeteria, web banners for the intranet and animated gifs.
Leaders kicked off the conversation, with line managers steering it at a local level. The teams were asked if they could describe a moment when they felt like they didn’t belong, what it felt like and what belonging looks and feels like to them. The conversation led to some deep insights and allowed people to open up, share experiences and empathise.
The conversation was followed up a week later with further information and reminders of where to find information to capitalise on the momentum internally. The campaign was adapted for Saudi Arabia and Australia, acknowledging different cultural attitudes to music but enabling the same insightful conversations about diversity and inclusion.
The client was thrilled with the way people reacted to the campaign:
“Increasing the diversity of our workforce and building an inclusive workplace in which everyone can be themselves and fulfil their potential is an area of strategic focus for us. Inclusion Week is a key opportunity to engage with our people on this topic and we wanted to take a fresh, relatable and relevant approach. The Redefining Communications team really helped us shape our thinking and deliver an outstanding campaign – they brought invaluable insight and creativity to the process and we’re delighted by how our people responded”.
Charlotte McGrath, Head of Group Employee Communications, BAE Systems
If you’d like support with creating a strategy around diversity and inclusion in your organisation, please get in touch.