Although diversity training has been in the workplace since the 1960s, it wasn’t until this century that it became an imperative. Initially driven by gender diversity as more women moved into higher-level positions, diversity and inclusion discussions eventually began expanding to include cultural diversity and people with disabilities. Most recently, the conversation has expanded to include sexual orientation, gender identities, and generational diversity. Diversity as a brand promise will continue to be a key element of marketing in 2022.
It has become increasingly important to customers that brands show a commitment to diversity. But that commitment must be authentic and it must be integrated into messaging on a perpetual basis. A single declaration of support on social media isn’t enough; it has to be part of a long-term social strategy that’s reinforced in every aspect of marketing.
When emphasizing diversity, it’s vital not to forget about inclusivity. The two go hand-in-hand; without inclusivity, diversity initiatives and campaigns will fall flat. The line that connects the two is thin but important: Diversity creates an environment or workplace with people who represent a wide range of races, genders, orientations, and more. Inclusivity takes that a step further and ensures that every one of those individuals feels valued, respected, and needed.
While “inclusive marketing” might sound like just another clever MarCom catchphrase, it has become essential in today’s environment. According to a study by Adobe, 61 percent of Americans find diversity in advertising important, and 38 percent of consumers say they are more likely to trust brands that successfully portray diversity in their marketing. Those are important numbers for brands to acknowledge before moving forward with new campaigns.
Meeting Customer Demand for Diversity
These days, consumers are holding brands’ feet to the fire when it comes to showing different faces and voices. As a result, many brands are showing a greater commitment to representing “real people” with their messaging.
One way to do that is by using influencers, who can help build that connection between your brand and their following. By turning to a diverse mix of influencers — all sizes, ethnicities, and genders — brands can establish themselves as more open, welcoming, and thoughtful. Millennials and Gen Z, in particular, are looking for brands represented by people who look like they do; they want to know that the brands they support also share their values.
Influencers who represent and speak to underrepresented audiences can amplify your brand’s message and reinforce your commitment to diversity and inclusivity. And, as you progress along the journey of diversity as a brand promise, they can be your greatest allies in spreading that word.
For brands, getting the right tone and the right message can make or break a campaign. That means every element of marketing must be carefully considered, from the voices and images to the context in which it is delivered. Having the right players on the team is a top priority. It requires building a team that understands (and represents) the customers you’re trying to reach. Without diverse representation on your team, messaging can come off sounding like appropriation or have the appearance of reinforcing stereotypes — which will have the exact opposite effect of what your brand is trying to achieve.
However, those brands that get it right can reap big rewards. Diversity and inclusion can help build brand loyalty — something that every successful company relies on. It can help attract new customers and strengthen your bond with existing ones.
Sharing Diversity as a Business Promise
Before making any stand for diversity, brands should get clear with their positions on topics that matter to their customers, whether that’s #BlackLivesMatter and racial injustice, matters involving the LGBTQ+ community, or body positivity messaging. Identify where you stand and how it relates to your customers.
There are many ways to share the diversity and inclusion message. Diversity and inclusivity should underpin every marketing campaign to ensure the message can reach the right audience and feel authentic.