Are you a diverse brand?

There is a desperate need for companies and brands to understand the importance of diversity and inclusion. Modern-day society is evolving much more rapidly than ever before and we must find ways to adapt to these new changes we are encountering.

Companies now have a vital responsibility to understand the ways in which to better represent the society we’re living in today. Before we go further into the more complex details, it’s essential for us to touch on the basic principles and definitions of the terms, diversity and inclusion. It’s important that a company has an in-depth understanding of these terms to enable them to better implement it within their businesses.

In sociology and political studies, diversity is the degree of differences in identifying features among the members of a purposefully defined group, such differences in racial or ethnic classifications, age, gender, religion, philosophy, physical abilities, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, gender identity, intelligence, mental health, physical health, genetic attributes, personality, behavior or attractiveness.

In simpler terms, it means having an understanding that every individual is unique and recognising their individual differences. Valuing diversity recognises differences between people and acknowledges that these differences are a valued asset.

Gen-zers want to be in environments where they are welcomed and feel appreciated, and are able to use a particular service or product from companies that value their individual differences, values and moral principles. This also brings us into the importance of inclusion which essentially puts the concept and practice of diversity into action by creating an environment of involvement, respect, and connection—where the richness of ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives are harnessed to create business value.

An article released by Forbes to celebrate the top 10 most diverse companies of 2018 referenced from the Thomson Reuters 2018 Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Index. It examined a company’s performance based on different factors that embody inclusive workplaces. These statistics saw Accenture at the top of the list making it their third consecutive year in the Index.

An official statement from the company’s site stated that they take the widest possible view of inclusion and diversity, going beyond abilities, age, ethnicity, gender, religion and sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to create an environment that welcomes all forms of differences.

‘Inclusion and diversity are fundamental to Accenture's culture and core values, fostering an innovative, collaborative and high-energy work environment. By embracing an inclusive culture that supports diverse young talent, Accenture people collaborate successfully and enable Accenture to compete effectively in the global marketplace.’ - Accenture.

A case study can be drawn out from last year’s H&M Ad which was seen as ‘Racist’, featuring a black child modelling a hoodie with the slogan “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle”. This caused high tensions and uproar among consumers globally, especially young people with black heritage. The severity of the matter even led to famous figures calling out the brand, one of which was an NBA star LeBron James & petitions were called for global boycotts of H&M as well. H&M stores in South Africa were broken into and vandalised by protesters.

H&M apologised for the controversy it has caused which led their decision to promote Annie Wu, a Queens-raised Taiwanese immigrant who had already been with the company since 2012, to a new position as the global head of diversity and inclusivity based in Stockholm.

When major PR crisis arises within a business it is sometimes hard to get back in the public’s good graces. H&M’s earnings took a huge financial hit just months after the controversy. The retailer, one of the world’s second-largest clothing retailers now had piles of unsold clothes worth more than $4 billion after #Hoodiegate, Bloomberg reported.

The retailer is paying heavily after its mistake: operating profit fell 62 percent to the lowest level in more than a decade. Its stock plummeted to the lowest number since 2005, according to Bloomberg. H&M could not even get rid of several t-shirts and jeans on clearance! Regardless of whether H&M wins back the public’s trust, recent events can serve as a lesson for all brands.

A lot of these problems usually arise when there is not enough diversity within the organisation's workforce, leading to a lack of understanding and knowledge of different demographics, cultural and social groups and also when people that work within these organisations do not speak up and challenge ideas it negates the impact of a brand that claims to champion diversity and inclusivity.

How does this relate to GEN-Z?

When trying to take steps to be a more diverse and inclusive company, the vision that a brand shows in its ads or campaigns and also down to its products and services must also align with the reality of its values. These values should be implemented in every aspect of your business as a whole as it shows genuine regard for diversity. When creating marketing campaigns targeted towards Gen Z, it makes sense to create something that is relatable and effectively addresses your audience.

As a company, you have to be authentic and genuine with your approach and not just doing it because it looks like a good strategic marketing plan but instead also focus on creating diverse marketing teams from top to bottom to ensure the environments are reflective of the brand messaging you want to portray.

What purpose does diversity and inclusion services and how can we implement it correctly?

Businesses must follow new rules, paying closer attention to gender, ethnicity, economic background and being careful not to ignore the LGBQT+ community. Representing the diversity of the market we serve is therefore not only a matter of social responsibility but also of business performance and ROI. Brands are placing a greater emphasis on in the LGBT community inclusivity and diversity in their marketing content.

Test your diversity messaging with consumers:

Carrying out tests and surveys to find out if your campaigns, products or services are resonating the right way with a test group.

If you’re focusing on a marketing campaign, you could also possibly think of hiring a multicultural ad agency. These agencies study and take the time to understand diverse consumers, so they are more knowledgeable in knowing the best ways to reach them.

Photo by Iona/Instagram: @iona.greaves

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