DE&I has been top of mind for most companies in 2023, and as marketers we know it’s no longer an option to stay silent when it comes to the lack of diversity in our content, in our campaigns, and in our ad images. But how should we be thinking about DE&I when building it into everyday campaigns? And how do we make it authentic? This blog post will explore those topics and more.
Where companies need to begin when it comes to discussing diversity
In a marketplace where customer experience is a top priority, consumers expect more from companies and their brands. Customers look for authenticity and evaluate brands across all touch points of the buying cycle. In fact, the World Federation of Advertisers conducted a study in partnership with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and found that 54% of consumers do not feel culturally represented in online ads. However, 71% of consumers expect brands to promote diversity and inclusion. Marketers are falling short.
As storytellers of our brands, marketers play a central role in company diversity and inclusion initiatives throughout the entire organization. As a starting point, we suggest conducting an audit of client-facing and audience-facing assets such as websites, presentation decks, and collateral. Additional tips on conducting a marketing audit can be found here.
DE&I barriers and how to overcome them
SmartBrief took a look at some major hurdles of DE&I strategy in a whitepaper in 2022, and these are some of the findings.
No one is accountable
Many company leaders are quick to draft statements and social media posts aligning themselves with social justice issues, even drafting plans of action to create change within the organization. However, a lot of these plans don’t include accountability metrics, and while they may be well-intentioned, it is easy for initiatives to get lost in the midst of business priorities.
Overcoming this barrier can be as simple as including a public commitment, an action strategy, and accountability goals and metrics to ensure progress is achieved.
The team doesn’t get it
Putting focus on DE&I initiatives takes a large investment. Many of the plans that marketing leaders create leave out the most important stakeholders – the employees. It is difficult for companies to reflect their values to customers if their employees don’t understand or connect to those values.
But this can be as easy as involving employees from the onset to learn and ask questions about why DE&I work is important and valuable.
Diversity is missing internally
Marketing teams that lack diverse representation are bound to result in shortfalls. This could lead to tokenization and culturally irresponsible imagery and messaging.
To fix this, hire a diverse team and make sure everyone has a voice at the table. Partnerships with community groups and influencers can also lead to collaborations that create campaigns that resonate with diverse audiences and ensure that advertising does not lead to tension.
How to avoid tokenization and ensure culture is represented
One of the biggest mistakes many companies make when it comes to DE&I initiatives is falling prey to tokenization while trying to connect with diverse audiences. Chantal St.Louise Augustin, director of enterprise marketing at LinkedIn, writes: “Paying lip service to DEI through woke washing and tokenism is no longer tolerated. It’s meaningless – and worse, harmful – to simply slap a Black History or Pride Month banner on your website.”
To make your DE&I strategy effective and real, conduct research and continually adjust it according to society norms. Understanding and putting an emphasis on cultural nuances will make all of the difference so consult subject-matter experts and bring them into the conversation to ensure cultures are properly represented.
For a deeper dive into DE&I strategies for marketers, download our whitepaper.
SmartBrief is the leading digital publisher of business news and information by industry. Our network of over 250 newsletters reaches approximately 7 million professional subscribers. Access our industry media kits for advertising opportunities.
In Case You Missed It: