In the past decade, there have been consistent rude awakenings in our country around social and racial justice. From police brutality targeting Black Americans to misinformation causing an increase in hate crimes towards Asian Americans, viral movements have inspired a fight for diversity and inclusion.
As these movements mobilized across the Internet, circulating – often, originating from – social media, and encouraging people to act, businesses, politicians, universities, and more were being watched more closely.
There was a new, high-stakes pressure that put everything on the line. Advocacy was expected. Businesses that stayed quiet during the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 felt the heat from their customers. Others that posted black squares on Instagram, offering performative, empty words were burned by the loss of customers. Even businesses that did well to speak up and put their money where their mouth is were placed under careful scrutiny in the months following.
The truth is diversity, equity, and inclusion are not politics to be separated from business. The events of the past several years have proved that this is an essential part of daily life for the American people. Our bosses, colleagues, competitors, customers, friends, and family – they are all impacted one way or another by the call for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
As a business, that means incorporating these principles into all processes. From being mindful of hiring practices and diverse networks to creating inclusive content on social media, it is imperative that brands not only speak up in solidarity but also show their authenticity through action.
What is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)?
The terms diversity, equity, and inclusions (also referred to as DEI) are all used interchangeably, despite some important distinctions.
Diversity is the differences among individuals and groups of people, such as:
- Socioeconomic status
- Gender expression
- Sexual orientation
- Geographical area
- Ability and disability
- and more
Equity can be defined as achieving an equal outcome, an important contrast from equality, which is defined as giving the same rights, resources, and opportunities
Lastly, inclusion is diversity and equity in action. This means including or involving people from different backgrounds and experiences to provide equitable opportunities. It might look like developing policies for marginalized communities acknowledging gaps between groups of people by creating solutions.
Framed this way, we all have a role to play in the call for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Why is diversity, equity, and inclusion important in marketing?
Not just that, consumers are expecting you to say something. According to a social change report by Sprout Social, “66% of consumers who want brands to take a stand on social say it’s because they believe brands can create real change. And 67% of consumers say brands are effective at raising awareness around important public issues when they speak out on social media.”
But, creating inclusive marketing campaigns and giving marginalized voices a seat at the table is not just a tactic to increase your bottom line. It makes for better business and better communities.
How can businesses be more inclusive?
Transparency, education, and awareness are key components to making inclusivity common practice for all businesses. From publishing your workforce demographics to sharing your DEI efforts, there are many ways to reflect your longstanding commitment to inclusivity.
Here are some ways your business can answer the call for diversity, equity, and inclusion through marketing:
First, acknowledge that you cannot be perfect in this area. Cultural nuances around social and racial justice are constantly evolving and no one (including us) is by any means an expert.
Instead, be honest and realistic about your practices. Address opportunities to improve your business practices by investing in DEI education. Commit to partnerships, establish task forces, hire from diverse networks, identify tangible ways you can increase your impact in the fight for racial justice.
Give everyone a voice
Representation matters. From the stock photos your use to the accessibility of your website, review your content and processes through multiple lenses.
Do your research about your customer base and your audience, run your marketing by another team member, make sure everyone that interacts with your business and brand feels represented in your imagery, copy, and the way that you conduct your business.
True diversity, equity, and inclusion cannot be achieved if brands are performative with their efforts to be inclusive. Instead, it is important to recognize that there is skin in the game. You have a responsibility as a business and as a leader to take this seriously.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion is an ongoing process
Ultimately, inclusive marketing and business practices are not an item on a checklist. You cannot invest in it once or twice and claim to be an inclusive company.
These are deeply important elements that may make or break your success, not to mention the way you make others feel. From your employees’ personal lives and experiences to your customers’ loyalty to your brand, DEI fits into every touchpoint of your business.
Remember that you started your business to serve people. When you use that power to make change to stand up and show up for your community, you will already be headed on the right path.
If you are looking for a full-service digital marketing agency that is focused on delivering inclusive marketing solutions, tailored to your needs, contact us and get started today.