Discover how to build a more inclusive community

Explore what DEI is, why it is critical for community success, and how community builders can implement meaningful DEI strategies to create a better community experience for everyone.

This guide is for anyone wanting to build a more inclusive community. Key takeaways include:

  • The benefits of DEI in community building
  • How to embrace DEI in your community building
  • Measuring and assessing DEI progress
  • Overcoming common obstacles in DEI initiatives.
  • Starting points to evaluate your community’s DEI

Embrace DEI in your community building

Building inclusive online communities

Our need to belong is a key driver for joining communities. 

We seek communities where we feel we belong to fulfill an innate need for connection. These communities provide us emotional support, a shared sense of identity and purpose, and often help us better ourselves. 

In communities where diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is prioritized, members from diverse backgrounds feel valued, respected, and represented. Everyone can belong, authentically contribute, and flourish.

And when everyone prospers, it is better for all of us.

What is DEI?

Let’s get started by taking a closer look at what the individual components of DEI actually mean. 


Diversity refers to who is represented in the community. Some examples of diversity in a community include (but are not limited to):

  • Gender: What is the ratio of men, women, and nonbinary people in a community
  • Age: Are people in a community from mostly one generation, or is there a mix of ages?
  • Ethnic: Do people in a community share common cultural or national traditions, or do they represent different backgrounds?
  • Physical ability and neurodiversity: Are people with disabilities, whether apparent or not, able to participate?


Equity refers to fair treatment for all people. It makes sure that everyone has a fair chance to participate and thrive in the community.

An example of this in an online community could be incorporating visual cues, such as icons or images, to assist users in understanding content and navigating the website more effectively.


Inclusion means that all community members feel valued, respected, included, represented, and heard. In inclusive communities members can be themselves, have a voice, and feel they belong.

Combining these elements helps create a community where everyone feels respected, has fair opportunities to participate, and senses that they belong—creating a richer experience for all.

How to embrace DEI in your community building

By prioritizing DEI principles, you can build a vibrant inclusive community that celebrates diversity, promotes fair opportunities, and ensures that all members are heard and can actively contribute to the collective success of the community.

But how does this work in practice?

Here are some actionable strategies and considerations to help community builders to embrace and integrate DEI principles.

Define DEI values

Start off by clearly articulating your community’s commitment to DEI in your community’s mission statement. Doing this sets the tone and foundation for all subsequent actions.

Helpful resource: Why you need a mission statement for your community 

Create clear guidelines

Community guidelines help safeguard your members while encouraging the culture you want to create within your community. 

Develop community guidelines that explicitly prohibit discriminatory behavior, hate speech, and harassment. Establish a reporting system for members to address violations, and communicate clear consequences for those who do not respect the guidelines.

Helpful resource: How to create compelling community guidelines 

Establish equitable access

Ensure that community resources, opportunities, and information are accessible to all members. This could include features such as providing content in multiple languages and different time zones for events.

Consider also digital accessibility when designing your community so that everyone can participate regardless of visual, hearing, physical, or cognitive differences.

Promote diverse representation

Actively seek diverse perspectives in leadership roles, moderators, and decision-making processes. Encourage participation from members with different backgrounds and experiences to highlight your community’s commitment to inclusivity.

Training and education

Provide professional ongoing training and resources for moderators and community leaders on DEI principles, unconscious bias, and cultural competency.

Create partnerships with organizations or groups that specialize in DEI initiatives. This can provide valuable resources and expertise to enhance the positive impact of your DEI initiatives.

Celebrate Diversity

Celebrate cultural, religious, and identity-related events within your community. This not only fosters a sense of belonging but also educates other members about different cultures and experiences.

Use inclusive language

Employ words that are respectful and neutral, promoting a sense of belonging for all members and preventing unintentional bias or discrimination. Don’t use terms that may marginalize or exclude individuals based on gender, religion, or other characteristics. 

Diverse content creation

Include a range of topics in your community content plan that will appeal to the diversity of your community members. Get inspiration and practical advice to help you develop your community content calendar here.

Involve your community

The success of your DEI initiatives also depends on the collective effort of community members who actively contribute to creating a culture that values and prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion. Here are some ways to encourage members to contribute:

  • Encourage dialogue
    Start open discussions about DEI within the community. Create dedicated groups or forums for members to share their thoughts, experiences, and suggestions related to DEI initiatives.
  • Seek feedback
    Actively involve your members in decision-making processes related to DEI.  Conduct surveys, interviews, or focus groups to gather insights from members about their experiences and suggestions for improvement. Establish clear ways for all members to provide feedback and ideas on DEI. 
  • Diversity spotlights
    Highlight diverse members or groups within the community through interviews or member spotlights. This celebrates diversity and provides visibility of different voices and perspectives.
  • Training and workshops
    Organize DEI-related educational events and involve community members as facilitators or guest speakers. This not only provides valuable insights but also empowers members to take an active role in education.
  • DEI committees
    Build a DEI committee composed of members interested in championing DEI in the community. The group can work with community leaders to propose and implement initiatives.
  • Mentorship programs
    Develop mentorship programs within the community to connect experienced members with newcomers. This fosters a sense of support and inclusion, especially for those who might feel marginalized or underrepresented.
  • Recognize contributions
    Acknowledge and celebrate members who actively contribute to fostering an inclusive environment. Recognize efforts through your community newsletters, announcements, or awards.

Discover more on these strategies, how to overcome common DEI challenges, expert insights, and more in the guide. Get your copy.

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