Creating an inclusive community culture during the holidays
If you have a large community, no matter what kind, the chances are good that you’ve been wondering about how to manage the holiday season. More specifically, how to make all your members feel like they can enjoy and engage with your content and other members during this time. There are many ways in which you can approach your strategy to create an inclusive community culture, but the most successful among these will arguably be your use of language. Language has the power to shape members’ attitudes and responses, foster respect, and empower a diverse group of people to engage and share more meaningfully in your community.
1. What is inclusive language?
Inclusive language is language usage that proactively and deliberately includes a diverse group of people. It also reflects their language, cultural, political, and religious differences, and nuances, while ensuring that everyone who engages feels acknowledged, accepted, and welcomed.
What to consider when crafting your language and communication:
- There are many other celebrations, customs, and observations that happen outside of Christmas, so avoid using words and phrases like ‘Christmas’ or ‘gift-giving’ as the default.
- Not everyone shares the same customs, beliefs, or views on the holidays, and your language and content should reflect that.
- All languages, cultures, and backgrounds have different nuances, like socio-political, historic, or religious contexts, so be cautious of broad statements or assumptions.
- Outdated views on gender and gender roles can be offensive and insensitive, so try avoiding assigning genders to things like cooking, gift-giving, or budgets.
- Every family looks different, so be especially careful of defining one type of family unit or structure. It’s also important to remember that some people may prefer to spend the holidays alone.
- Not everyone shares the same range of physical movement and mental abilities, so take care when talking about activities like skiing, hiking, or picnics.
- Over the last two years, many people have suffered great losses due to the ongoing pandemic, so this period may be particularly sensitive to some. Keep this in consideration when talking about spending money, or having family time during this period.
- When trying to create inclusivity, using broad phrases like ‘non-European’ or ‘non-Christian’ for instance should be avoided. This is because it creates the sense that there is one group within the community considered as the ‘norm’, and everyone else sits outside of it.
2. Creating an inclusive community culture
Spread awareness, not silence
With so much to consider, it may feel easier to avoid engaging with a holiday community strategy altogether. However, there are many great opportunities that you would miss out on. Spreading awareness of different cultures, celebrations, or observances during the holidays creates visibility for your members. It creates the opportunity to share new and unique content, create fulfilling and relevant events, and spark conversations and polls. And as we know, creating this type of visibility is immensely valuable to you as the Community Manager, and to the community as a whole.
If you don’t know, ask and collaborate
When it comes to different languages, cultures, and backgrounds, there are many fine nuances that can be easy to overlook. If you don’t know or are unsure of these, it’s a wonderful opportunity to reach out to people who do know, even within your own community. Ask the right questions, and collaborate on ideas, like events, content (including imagery), and more. Not only will this lessen your workload in planning and executing your strategy, but you’ll be assured that you’re delivering value in a considered and sensitive way.
Be responsive and alert
There may be questions, comments, or posts where your direct input is needed. Whether these are negative or positive, it’s important not to remain silent. Show the community that their input is valued while maintaining a space that is inclusive and safe for all members (so in other words, moderate offensive or inappropriate content). During the holiday season, we all want to switch off now and again, so to help lessen the efforts of moderation, enlist the help of trusted colleagues or community members.
Consider your community guidelines
If you’re unsure how to moderate the content or feel unsure about how to tackle tricky situations, it may be time to revise your community guidelines. Updating this will give you a clear plan of action on what to do in difficult situations. You can also update your existing community guidelines to include specific points like language usage. Make these guidelines visible and accessible to all community members, so that everyone remains on the same page.
Rather than being afraid of engaging with your community during the holiday season, empower yourself with these tips and insights. With careful thought and consideration in how you approach your language use, you can create an inclusive space that celebrates differences and diversity. So don’t be afraid to post content, create events or drive conversations during the holidays! For more tips on creating a safe and thriving online space, be sure to visit our blog that outlines practical dos and don’ts.