4. Feature diverse voices
Feature people of diverse racial, religious, gender, age, sexual orientation and ability in your interviews, case studies, testimonials and stories — and suggest the same to your clients.
5. Invite diverse participation
Invite diverse and marginalized professionals to join your collaborations, event panels, networking groups and masterminds. This will not only widen your network, it will help more under-represented people break through.
6. Speak out!
Speak out when organizations to which you belong promote leaders, speaking panels and initiatives that are neither diverse nor inclusive.
7. Cater content to all abilities
Ensure your online content caters to people of all abilities. Use descriptive alt-text on your digital images so the visually impaired can read them (it also helps your SEO). Add captions on your videos. Include transcripts for audio or video recordings. And suggest these tips to your clients.
Learn about the history and lived experience of people from other cultures, races, sexual orientations and abilities. Explore fiction and non-fiction accounts, search out movies and documentaries, follow diverse voices on social media and, best of all, make friends outside your typical social circles.
Of course, in the end, diversity and inclusion is not about any image or app or checklist. It’s about a joint commitment to do better — to watch our words, to listen to voices from varied backgrounds, to be sensitive to our unconscious biases, to be honest about our unacknowledged prejudices and, above all, to celebrate our differences.
What do you enjoy most about being an indie?
Working independently offers the chance to collaborate with different clients across sectors, providing more exposure to different ways of doing things. I enjoy working with various people, seeing how different organizations function and honing my skills in new ways.
Having a retainer agreement is in many ways the best of both worlds between employee and indies because it offers both continuity and flexibility. Working with one great client long-term gives me the opportunity to build my expertise in one area and focus on specific groups of stakeholders.
What don’t you like about being an indie?
Marketing myself and selling my services doesn’t come naturally to me, so I’m continuing to develop those skills. I miss the organic learning opportunities that come from working alongside colleagues day-to-day and the chance to absorb some of the expertise of people in different departments across an organization.
Although I’m fortunate to have the stability of working on a retainer, it would be great to have a vacation, benefits and other employee perks. And there are many days I would appreciate having IT support at my disposal.
What advice would you give someone new to independent life?
Have a clear idea about your niche and the specific types of services you want to offer. This will help you market your business to potential clients. Use IABC to network and connect with your peers in the industry to maintain a support system and stay up-to-date.
As an independent, you’re likely your own marketer, IT professional, accountant and everything else. Get the resources and tools you need to manage the various functions of running a business — so you can keep your focus on what you do best.
How long have you been an IABC and PIC member and what value do you get from your membership?
I joined IABC for one year in 2018 but didn’t take full advantage of the professional development and networking opportunities. I recently rejoined and have found the information and resources to be helpful. I look forward to connecting with other members and getting more involved in PIC and IABC in the coming year.
How to stay connected
The human desire to gather is strong, and even introverts are hungry for interaction. Here are some ways to fight isolation and “meet” other people:
- Stay connected by phone, text, email, Zoom, even snail mail.
- Set up daily and weekly calls with family and friends.
- Drop off food at neighbours' doors and enjoy it together over Zoom.
- Keep in touch with young relatives you can’t see in person: send pages to colour and make dates to colour together on Zoom.
- Take part in online conferences. Move your avatar around and have virtual conversations.
- Join in online communities (have you visited the PIC groups on LinkedIn and Facebook?).
HOW TO EMBRACE YOUR CREATIVITY
One year ago, many of us had big plans to learn something new, maybe even lots of new things. Now we know that just getting through each day can be challenging enough. Still, there’s no harm in giving your creativity a subtle boost, no strings attached:
- Take a writing class.
- Try your hand at painting.
- Find podcasters, musicians, artists and other communities to support and follow on Patreon.
- Take Zoom classes in standup comedy and join in open mic nights.
- Go ahead, make banana bread and sourdough.
- Get inspired by John Cleese’s Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide.
Above all, don’t worry if you’re not as productive or focused as usual. It’s a pandemic, after all. Be gentle with yourself.
- Boredom can be an incubator for new ideas, writes Marilyn Barefoot in "Are You Bored Yet?" in the IABC Catalyst.
- Hitting your “pandemic wall”? Experts share "11 tips for Alleviating Your Pandemic Burnout in 2021" on the health and wellness website Well + Good.