Why diversity, equity, and inclusion have a seat at the brand-building table?
WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION?
We are the creators. With this title comes endless opportunities to create. With this title comes space to imagine. To invent and reinvent. With this comes excitement. Strategy sessions. Scribbling and whiteboarding. Revisions. Works of art.
We are creators. With this title comes duty.
Our duty as creators is to tell stories – to give a voice to brands for whom we create. To tell the stories of brands with which consumers connect and are challenged or inspired. People want to see themselves in the stories that brands tell. Consumers today have eyes open for brands equipping them to explore cultures beyond their own.
As creators, we get to tell stories to which any and every individual can relate. We get to represent diversity by including all demographics in such a way that each could effortlessly imagine stepping into the stories themselves.
To state it simply, diversity answers the what; equity answers the why; inclusion answers the how. Strategy intern Alanie Abron dove into researching these topics and continues to help lead our BLVR team in learning how to apply them to the workplace, our lives, and beyond.
WHY DOES DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION MATTER?
We’ll take two stances to expand on why these matter.
First, from a business standpoint: According to a global survey of 2,000 consumers conducted by Adobe, 61% of Americans find diversity in advertising to be important. In fact, 38% of consumers said they are more likely to trust brands that show more diversity in their ads. More than one-third of LGBTQ+, African Americans, and Millennial consumers confirmed that showing diversity in ads majorly impacts their likelihood to purchase products and services from a brand.
Now for the heart and soul standpoint – since we are all humans reading this.
If you don’t come from a community amidst diversity, equity and inclusion – consider breathing in a soft dose of empathy. Step into the Vans of another beyond your demographic circle. Scroll the web. Watch the reels. Notice the images that webpages portray. Now, how do you feel? Do you see yourself in these stories? Do you feel connected with these brands?
Perhaps now the need for diversity, equity and inclusion is obvious, if it wasn’t before.
WHAT IS DIVERSE REPRESENTATION?
Diversity means having representation from various demographics. Diverse representation means integrating leading, recurring talent with different dimensions of diversity. Equity creates a space for fair and impartial outcomes for all parties involved. Inclusion means making different demographics feel seen, welcomed, included.
A bit of simple arithmetic, and we arrive here:
Diverse representation takes action to provide the most even outcomes for individuals from varied demographics in order to ensure they are seen, welcomed, and included.
As creators, it is our endeavor to tell stories with which people of all cultures can genuinely connect.
So, how do we live these out?
TACTICS TO BUILD AUTHENTIC REPRESENTATION
1. Educate on perspectives beyond our own
Society today is aware of the need for education – and society has delivered. Whether film, books, YouTube or organizations dedicated to diversity is your choice, here are resources that meet every attention span:
- Film: 13th, King in the Wilderness, American Son, Hidden Figures, LA 92, I Am Not Your Negro, Freedom Riders, Selma
- Books: Americanah, A Raisin in the Sun, Invisible Man, The New Jim Crow, Becoming
- YouTube: As/Is, Asia Jackson, i-D, Genius Brain Podcast by David So, Tarek Ali
- Organizations: AdColor, Invisible Creatives, AIR (Allies in Recruiting), One School, The BrandLab
2. Grow self-awareness through meaningful conversations
Society is normalizing vulnerability. The world can commit to being conscientious when approaching conversations and seeking out various viewpoints. For BLVR, we practice asking questions to understand the opinions of others. We are careful to not assume that all individuals have profound connections to their cultural roots. As our wise Strategy intern Alanie Abron stated: “If you can Google it…maybe don’t ask it.”
3. Implement inclusive design
Karen Yin’s Conscious Style Guide is a website devoted to conscious language – helping writers and editors think critically about finding the correct tone of voice. It aims to empower rather than limit, and provides best practices for representing diversity well. Using conscious language and design acknowledges the various voices that would not usually be heard. It offers a seat at the table for those who wouldn’t consider pulling out a chair.
4. Welcome contributions from underrepresented groups
It is invaluable for brands to account for the diverse demographic breakdown when representing consumers in ad content. Crediting BIPOC creators empowers their voices. Our BLVR team is intentional when choosing models and images. We make a point to continually listen to voices from all communities.
WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES AUTHENTIC REPRESENTATION MAKE FOR CONSUMERS?
Building authentic representation is important for business. As of May 2019 in the United States, 34% of consumers reported that they had stopped supporting a brand due to lack of representing their identity in brand advertising. Conversely, highly inclusive organizations generate 1.4 times more revenue and are 120% more capable of meeting financial targets. Diverse representation is even more vital for society. African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latino/Hispanic Americans make up nearly 37% of the U.S. population, yet these groups express that they feel the least represented in advertising.
We have the ability to change that.
HOW CAN BUSINESSES REPRESENT MINORITIES IN ADVERTISING?
As creators telling the stories for brands, it is our responsibility to represent diverse demographics. We take a stand for continuing to learn and educate ourselves on diverse representation. We will boldly show the diversity throughout society, empowering minorities and educating others. We can label it a responsibility – but what about an empowering quest offering endless possibilities?
We get to give the biracial parents a feeling of connection on their search for the next family car.
To show the boy in the wheelchair that he too can rock the Nike kicks, and he’s in good company.
To tell the story of the girl who typically sees a face that she would never relate to on the screen. We get to evoke emotion and inspire her to get up, take the piano lesson, and pursue the music she’s been wondering about.
We are the creators. We have a duty, which includes a promise. Our promise is to give a voice to marginalized communities. We all have stories. Let’s tell them.