By Natanya Khashan | December 5, 2018

There are now 4 billion people across the globe using social media. According to the Pew Research Center, more than 50% of American adults get their news from social media sites, and social media users are an incredibly diverse group across race, gender, income levels, and community type. I’ve spoken with many leaders who consider social media to be the public face of their organizations. It builds brand awareness, drives kinship with audiences and consumers, and can be a significant source of revenue. Considering the power and diversity of social media, an organization needs to ensure that its social strategy is informed by and advances its diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Use this checklist to ensure your social strategy is informed by #diversity and #inclusion principles Click To Tweet

Language & Imagery

In both obvious and subtle ways, language greatly impacts our perception of what is happening around us. Across digital platforms, considerate language is critical to ensuring your message is heard in the way it is intended. Consider the last email you received that was confusing or caused you to react in a manner that was unintentional due to the language used. There are nuances to language that your organization should be widely aware of, particularly in the digital age. Use this checklist to gauge whether your organization is inclusive of all potential audiences on social media:


Does your organization use gender neutral language?

Use pronouns like “they/them” instead of “he/she” and avoid language biased to one gender including, “mankind”, “guys”, and “boyfriends/girlfriends”. When responding to comments or posts, do not assume the person’s gender, but rather address them by their name. UN Women provides comprehensive guidelines on writing to fight gender bias.


Do you use diverse imagery and icons?

If you use stock photography, be cognizant that it is littered with gender and racial stereotypes. There are limited options when sourcing images of women or people of color in positions of power. Try using websites like and Pexels or Canva’s Natural Women Collection the next time you need a stock image. Icons are also traditionally gendered and racially European. This is exhibited through simple design choices like shirt cuffs or face shape. When designing new icons, be sure to let your graphic designer know that you’re committed to your icons representing a wide range of people. Check out a few Cook Ross icons that we ?:

Are your emojis inclusive?

The fun array of emojis continue to evolve and provide us even more ways to universally speak with one another. Depicting a broad audience through emoji use is helpful to ensuring this new means of communication is inclusive. Using non-gendered emojis and the yellow emojis when depicting a universal audience, or multiple colors of emojis when depicting a broad audience, can go a long way to creating an inclusive social media presence.


Do you ensure any offensive comments are removed?

Comments on your posts that are misogynist, racist, homophobic, or hateful to any group or person have no place on your organization’s social media platforms. By not engaging and removing these types of comments immediately, your audiences know your organization doesn’t tolerate hate speech. If you are not able to remove comments, develop a strategy to handle these issues and move to action quickly.


Do you engage with a diverse range of voices?

Sharing content that is created and curated by people of diverse perspectives and voices shows a strong commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion. Diversify talent on your social media teams, promote a diversity of voices outside of your organization, and work with a wide range social media influencers.


Before diving into any of these recommendations, recognize that social media doesn’t drive itself. Because of the instantaneous nature of social technology, it’s important to equip your teams, who are often under high pressure to respond quickly, with the tools to be engaging and inclusive on social media. Cook Ross’ PAUSE model used in our Unconscious Bias workshops is a great support tool for those who must react quickly and decisively.

#SocialMedia doesn't drive itself. Equip your teams with the tools to respond quickly, decisively, and #inclusively. Click To Tweet

Check back on Cook Ross’ blog in January 2019 for our next post on how to use social media to further your D&I strategy in the new year.


Do you have more tips to add? Share them with us on social!

As Cook Ross’ Marketing and Events Specialist, Natanya develops and implements a strategic marketing plan to broaden the organization’s reach and coordinates all of Cook Ross’ special events and open workshops.