Diversity and authenticity are key to your businesses’ overall success.
When it comes to business, it’s becoming exceedingly clear that diversity in the workplace is one of the leading factors to an organization’s overall financial and cultural success. In recent years, studies have shown that diversity increases both employee engagement and the bottom line within organizations.
And while this is exciting news, some find themselves wondering what diversity and inclusivity look like in actuality—and how companies are successfully integrating their marketing teams.
How do diversity, equity, and inclusion differ?
To start, it’s important to define and understand that the terms diversity, equity, and inclusion are not synonymous.
Diversity is defined as the inclusion of different types of people in a group or organization but more broadly refers to an instance of being composed of differing elements or qualities.
While diversity concentrates on bringing together those with different backgrounds, cultures, and life experiences, inclusion focuses on how that is accomplished. When applied to an organization’s marketing department, diversity centers on what each of the members of that team brings to the table, while inclusion acts as the environment that allows this diversity to thrive.
Infusing diversity into your organization’s marketing efforts can allow your company to scale quickly and sustainably as well as help your audience understand, relate to, and trust who your brand is at its very core.
Incorporating a diverse and inclusive marketing strategy that doesn’t accurately reflect your organization and company culture can be an expensive mistake. Remember—authenticity is key.
Understanding Your Audience’s Wants and Needs
For your brand to be valuable, your audience should see themselves through your content. They want to know that you hear them, understand their pain points and desires, and can meet their specific needs. Diverse marketing can unlock and garner the trust of new and pre-existing audiences, but it must be done well.
Diverse marketing goes beyond the basic photos or graphics used for your organization’s website or social media channels. Truly diverse and inclusive content requires deep thought and insight from a cross functional team of quality content creators.
This is especially true for any written content that your organization is looking to put out. Your brand’s voice must speak to a diverse and totally inclusive audience at all times. For many businesses, this means revisiting customer personas to ensure they reflect today’s diverse society.
After all, your audience wants to hear different viewpoints to better understand what others are experiencing. Today’s consumers desire an inclusive look at how a brand is operating—even when no one is watching.
How to Create a Diverse and Inclusive Marketing Team
Not sure where to begin when it comes to building (or rebuilding) your marketing team to encourage the creativity and employee engagement that comes with inclusivity? Here are a few tips to help get you started.
1. Create Inclusive Foundational Principles
To build an inclusive and diverse marketing team, it’s essential to start with foundational basics.
- Does your organization have policies and programs in place that encourage and invite diversity into the workplace?
- Are there sponsorships and flexible avenues to leadership roles that are accessible to every employee?
- Are those leadership roles actually diversifying to resemble your employee demographics?
- And do those leadership roles offer the same level of compensation, no matter an individual’s demographic?
Asking these questions will help you better identify any organizational issues that leadership must address before you can move forward with encouraging a diverse and inclusive marketing department within the larger organization.
2. Review Your Recruiting and Retention Processes
Work with your company’s Human Resources department to create job postings that reflect inclusive language to reach wider audiences than traditional hiring methods. Also, request recruiters to incorporate a minimum percentage of diverse candidates in each hiring pool and to provide blinded resumes. Organizations can mandate these policies for both internal and external hiring practices as well as leadership opportunities.
3. Audit Your Current Team Composition
Step back and look at your current marketing team’s composition. What backgrounds and life experiences are currently missing? Audit your team members’ strengths and weaknesses, including their qualities and characteristics, by using an online assessment tool. Taking these steps will help you better understand what a new hire should possess to enhance your team’s overall capabilities and potential.
4. Leverage External Resources
If budget restrictions or a hiring freeze keep your organization from expanding and diversifying its marketing team, you can always outsource project needs to a diverse content creation agency.
For example, relying on the same writer to produce your brand’s content can often limit new perspectives and produce institutional sameness. Working with quality content writers from a variety of backgrounds can help shape your messaging while simultaneously teaching your internal team how to move in the right direction on other projects.
5. Train Your Team to Ask Hard Questions and Listen Well
As a leader, you will be required to not only lead by example but also facilitate difficult conversations and encourage active listening from each of your team members. Having a diverse marketing department creates cognitive flexibility—the ability to adapt to a constantly changing environment. This is sometimes exemplified by one’s capacity to analyze and discuss a problem from varying angles thanks to different life experiences.
Diversity can often bring a healthy dose of productive conversation to a team. Great ideas will come from all backgrounds and experiences, and creative tension can produce innovative and inspiring results. It’s your responsibility to ensure that your team is trained to not only ask tough diversity and inclusion questions but also actively listen during collaboration. When in doubt: ask questions, listen, and create a conversation.
6. Consider Inclusion in Execution
It’s important to remember that inclusion doesn’t stop at the creation and collaboration stage—it’s also instrumental in the production and execution stages. For example, provide closed captioning for any videos you produce, write up transcripts for any audio you record, and make sure that all marketing end products are easily accessible to all audiences. For more resources, visit the Conscious Style Guide to ensure your inclusionary practices reach beyond the creation stage.
7. Encourage Continued Learning
Utilize resources and encourage your team to continue listening and learning both in and out of the workplace. Leverage trusted external resources like the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing so that you and your team can continue to embrace the extended benefits that come with a diverse and inclusive team.
Organizations and brands that embrace diversity as a vital piece of their identity not only see business growth and employee engagement rise but also witness an increase in creativity, innovation, and collaboration. By creating and implementing inclusive foundational principles that lead to actionable opportunities within the organization, marketing departments can effectively communicate the brand’s unified mission and vision in everything it puts out. Remember—authenticity is key.