To be genuinely inclusive and representative of the communities you support, your communication needs to be powered by the voices of those communities. 

Sometimes it isn’t easy. 

Sadly this can lead to a loss of conviction – a loss of trust in the potential of community voice. 

Watch out for Tokenism – this is when it might seem like a community is being given a chance to speak but it is simply symbolic. Some examples might be: 

It can be tempting to go back to the same people again and again, especially if they are reliable and easy to engage with. However, this means that you don’t get to hear from a range of voices and experiences.

That can stop people from feeling like the organisation is the right place for them to feel safe and to speak up. 


What to ask


What to try

One of the best ways to build trust and conviction is through co-design –  to make sure that communities are involved right from the start.

Ensuring communities feel invited in at the very early stages of planning and design may help to ease concerns and help to surface new ideas. A sense of ownership or genuine engagement helps build trust and it can take time. 

The emphasis needs to be on listening and responding to a genuine problem rather than arriving with an idea or solution. 


What to explore

IDEO.org is a nonprofit design studio that designs products and services alongside organisations that are committed to creating a more just and inclusive world.

Check out their brilliant design kit for more ideas and models for community-centric design. 

We particularly love this idea around photo journaling to better understand someone’s daily life and thereby shape the design of a campaign or story around their experiences.