All-year-round actions speak louder than words


June is done. Time to roll up your rainbow flags and pack them away for another year… 

Or is it time to double down on making workplaces great places. Because for some people out there, feeling positive about their workplace isn't a reality, even with hybrid working conditions or enticing perks like membership to a swanky gym.

The truth is, even with these things, a truly happy and thriving workplace is one that fosters a community where every individual is celebrated. It's a place that gives us a voice, ignites our passions, and reminds us that we matter – all year round!

Consistent DEI advocacy holds the key

Recently, we had the pleasure of meeting author and activist Kim Clark, a leading light in LGBTQ+, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and social justice communications. Kim’s passion is to help companies, communicators and leaders to understand the impact of having a DEI lens on communications and the power of embedding DEI into all their processes, aligning with values and vision, from operations through to marketing.

Yes, there is a place for rainbow flags but Pride advocacy isn’t just for the month of June. DEI messaging needs to be consistent and powerful rather than simply performative. Kim's journey is living proof that actions speak louder than words.

Businesses need to talk the talk and walk the walk. Every day.  

Kim emphasised that leadership goes beyond making promises; it's about living those values every day. From simple acts like respecting pronouns—understanding that they’re not 'preferred' but essential to everyone’s identity. 

This highlights the importance of creating an open environment where employees feel safe to share their stories. It’s these actions that build trust, understanding, and a genuine sense of belonging.

Change needs to be seen to be believed 

James Baldwin, a gay writer and civil rights activist, once wrote, “One is in the impossible position of being unable to believe a word one’s countrymen say. 'I can’t believe what you say,' the song goes, 'because I see what you do.'” Here, Baldwin is highlighting the power of action. It doesn’t matter if we say we want things to change if we’re not actively integrating those changes into our lives.

A world where coming out is no longer a daunting task is possible if acceptance is rooted properly in our culture. That vision is at the heart of Kim’s mission and should be at the core of every organisation.

Kim’s journey: how tragedy helped her shift perspective  

It all starts with giving employees a safe space to have these conversations. It’s key that we feel safe to share our stories – it’s what makes us relatable and our experiences resonate with others. 

Kim was working in-house running a global internal communications team in June 2016, when a gunman targeted Pulse, a gay nightclub, in Orlando, Florida. Kim, being an out and proud gay woman, found herself becoming a safe space for employees after the tragedy. Other LGBTQ+ people and allies turned to her for help to talk through their anger, grief and to make sense of things.

Seeing first-hand the power of open and supportive cultures 

She was also able to advocate to her colleagues throughout it all, opening up a door for them to share their stories and grieve together. The more people came forward the more Kim realised that sharing fears and experiences was essential if we are going to properly figure out how to move forward and make real change.

Just by holding the space, she made a significant difference to those who she worked alongside. It was this trigger that drove Kim on to replicate this experience in other workplaces. And so, her work in DEI communications began.

It’s not just the taking part in Pride that counts 

Sharing experiences openly can truly impact our workplace and start a chain reaction. But if we want real change in workplace culture – to truly be inclusive – it’s not just about advocating or taking part in initiatives once in a while. Annual Pride events and disability awareness days raise awareness, but we can do better than that, can’t we?

How about embedding DEI communications in everyday work life, aligned with company values? IFor example, building a consistent all year-round DEI Communication Calendar. It’s this consistency and authenticity that makes DEI communications powerful, not just words. Before we know it, they carry over into our personal lives and society as a whole.

Which brings us right back to Kim’s goal: a world where coming out is no longer a thing because making room for people to be who they are without the constraints and expectations is finally deeply rooted in our culture. And the good news is, we’re on our way.

The gold DEI standard: Urban Outfitters commit to consistency 

Kim holds up Urban Outfitters as an example of a company that doesn’t just say that ‘stand in solidarity’ with a community, but actually ‘withstands’ through rough times. They stay committed. While other major brand retailers backed off their support fearing potential consumer backlash, Urban Outfitters had posters on their stores saying, Unwavering.  

Since 2020, they’ve required all employees to complete a D&I Fundamentals Course. Their commitment extends beyond training; they joined the Open to All initiative, ensuring a welcoming shopping experience. They’ve introduced Employee Resource Groups, a mentorship program, 12 hours of paid volunteer time annually, and inclusive fertility benefits.

It lives in everything they say and do 

These strategies are not just policies but are woven into the fabric of their corporate culture, driving real change. Kim noted if you go to the Urban Outfitters website, “you'll also see their 2023 campaign where they were really doubling down on unwavering Pride this month, every month, all year. So, they have this commitment of consistency, right. It's in their language, it's in their communications and we’re seeing it in action.”

Urban Outfitters' consistent commitment to inclusivity is reflected in their everyday actions, showing that true change is embedded in daily practices.

The DEI benefits: Intentional practices keep your people engaged 

The work that Kim is doing is vital as we still have a way to go yet. Despite the trending importance of workplace culture, there's been a decline in general employee engagement.

Gallup reports a significant drop in employee engagement in the workplace, with 9.6 million fewer employees, globally, feeling connected to their work compared to a few years ago. This decline is tied to a weakened sense of mission, purpose, and clarity in roles.

owever, there’s hope. Gallup found that organisations with "strategically planned and intentional" workplaces can achieve up to 70% employee engagement. It’s not hard to see how DEI can play an important role in driving engagement —intentional, inclusive actions can make a big difference.

Intentional practices also attract and retain talent 

One way to improve employee engagement is to create a team in which we can see ourselves reflected back. As Kim notes, “Removing DEI practices is the worst move to make... it is the most effective series of strategies to prepare workplaces for the future of work and stay relevant and attractive to talent.”

Cultural shifts in the insurance industry 

Even in the most traditional sectors, such as financial services and insurance, we are seeing significant workplace cultural evolution. Once seen as mainly male-dominated fields, these industries, in the 1980s and 90s in particular, were marked by a distinct workplace culture that often included socialising in male-centric environments, such as pubs and bars.

Industry bodies, such as the Association of British Insurers, are now actively advocating for this change. “The insurance and long-term savings industry touches almost every citizen in this country by protecting them and helping them invest for the future. This social purpose makes it crucial for the industry to fully reflect the communities we serve, including the LGBTQ+ community. We can only do this by fostering diversity of thought, background and experience in our leadership and our workforce,” says ABI’s Yvonne Braun.

“DEI is change management. DEI is asking workplaces and therefore workers to change…for the better.”  Kim says.

She continues, “Communication is key to telling that story and a compelling vision where everyone in the workplace can see themselves in benefiting from the work.”

Diverse hiring practices, leadership development programs, DEI training and business resource groups are just some of the ways that the insurance industry, and others, are embedding DEI practices, and the industry is seeing positive changes for everyone as a result.

The benefits go on and on…

Why is this so important? Because the benefits are immense. A diverse and inclusive workplace boosts mental health, attracts top talent, and strengthens relationships. And we can reflect DEI in every aspect of our organisation, from internal policies to external branding.


Kim adds, “There are all these different ways that systems need to change in order to give everyone the opportunity to thrive. It all ladders into exactly the same thing. And that's actually what DEI is trying to solve.”


Genuine inclusivity isn't just a trend, it's the rhythm of our businesses moving forward and the cornerstone of a thriving organisation. Together, we can make sure our actions speak louder than words and create workplaces where every individual can feel proud of who they are, every day.



Baldwin J. A Report from Occupied Territory. The Nation. July 11, 1966. 
State of the Global Workplace Report - Gallup, 2024 Report 
Yvonne Braun, Director of Policy, Long Term Savings, Health & Protection, Executive Sponsor, Diversity & Inclusion at the Association of British Insurers,