Diversity, equity, and inclusion has become a key component of brand and business mission statements over the last few years. While they used to be mere words businesses used to score points and sound appealing, they mean much more today.
Stakeholders (internal and external) now prioritize collaborating with brands that share their values. This is unsurprising as the world is heavily invested in social justice. DEI is seen as a way to address biases and injustices that exist in society.
So, as marketers or brands, incorporating DEI in marketing and communications goes a long way to show your customers your commitment to fostering inclusivity.
This article will discuss why and how to utilize DEI initiatives in marketing and PR campaigns.
But first, let’s unbox DEI
Diversity ensures that brands design their message or offer for a diverse audience.
Equity means making sure different groups can access that message or offer. This means delivering that message via diverse channels. For example, instead of disseminating a message on TikTok—a platform used mainly by Gen Z—you share it via email, a blog post, and other social media.
Inclusion ensures everyone, irrespective of their sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or disabilities, can consume an offer. Say you’re writing an article titled What is Hadoop HDFS? In order to ensure a visually impaired person can read it, you will provide alt text for images, use high contrasts, and large fonts.
Why does DEI in marketing matter?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion help organizations achieve moral and business objectives. In fact, there’s a solid case to be argued that both are connected. When you consider how consumers make purchase decisions today, DEI in marketing makes a lot of sense.
To buttress this point, let’s look at the result of a few studies:
- 39 percent of respondents felt that many brands don’t do enough to represent people like them or their community
- 59 percent say it is crucial that the company they buy from actively promote diversity and inclusion
- 70 percent of younger millennial participants revealed that diverse casting in ads influences preference
From the above statistics, it is clear that consumers are leaning towards inclusive brands. You leave money on the table if you’re not creating ads that speak to diverse groups. For example, 71 percent of the LGBTQ+ community is highly likely to engage with online content that authentically represents their sexuality.
Imagine how many new followers you can attract to your business by creating content that speaks to an underrepresented class. If executed correctly, using DEI in marketing will positively impact your bottom line.
7 tips for incorporating DEI in marketing
Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a constantly evolving phenomenon. This means there is no such thing as perfection just yet.
However, there are standard practices to stakeholders your commitment. They include the following:
1. Build a diverse team
One thing you want to avoid when integrating DEI into marketing is making assumptions. This happens when you don’t research properly or have a homogeneous team. Work with diverse marketers, including customers who form your target audience. That way, you can understand subtle nuances and create content that connects.
For instance, having a decent representation of women on your team will ensure you use the correct language in some cases.
2. Identify where there are knowledge gaps and biases
Implementing DEI successfully into marketing campaigns requires some self-reflection. Consider if there are subtle biases in your marketing efforts that prevent inclusion.
The likelihood is that there will be—especially if this is your first attempt at applying DEI in marketing.
To identify this issue, use internal audit services. Through them, you can assess your marketing practices to know if they are DEI compliant.
3. Understand your audience
Whether you operate a niche marketing strategy or are targeting the masses, you no doubt understand the importance of audience research for your campaigns—this isn’t different. Knowing your audience ensures you create the right content for them when and where they want it. To do this, create a user persona.
A user persona provides powerful insights into your target audience. They usually contain age, gender, occupation, hobbies, goals, etc. As you try to create inclusive content, leverage technology. For instance, a contact center AI can provide data-driven insights into customer demographics and preferences.
4. Make inclusive and accessible designs
Another area where artificial intelligence can be beneficial is content creation. For example, an AI-based virtual assistant can analyze content for potential biases or insensitivity in real-time.
Features like voice commands and screen readers can make content more inclusive for individuals with disabilities. AI can suggest diverse stock photos, models, or influencers to ensure marketing content represents different identities.
5. Use diverse channels
The whole point of incorporating DEI in marketing is for everyone to access it. So, disseminate your message across multiple channels for more reach. For example, use TikTok or Instagram to connect with a younger audience and email with an older one. If necessary, take advantage of traditional media as well to foster inclusivity.
6. Consider tone of voice
Creating content with DEI in mind can be tricky. As explained above, it is an evolving phenomenon. What is acceptable today may not be tomorrow. For example, people with dyslexia (person-first language) are usually recommended.
However, in other cases, the individual may prefer “dyslexics” (identity-first language). This is where a YAML file can be handy. You can use it to define DEI-focused content best practices.
7. Continue learning
There is no such thing as perfection with DEI. Don’t get me wrong—you will notice improvements if implemented correctly. However, with how things are constantly changing, you can only try.
Use internal resources like call center metrics, feedback forms, polls, and surveys to see areas for improvement. External tools like Contrast Checker and The Conscious Style Guide can help with uncertainties.
Incorporating DEI in marketing helps organizations achieve their social and governance requirements. At the same time, it impacts their bottom line.
However, brands that want to be inclusive must first look inward—this means creating a diverse team that can understand different groups.
This is, after all, how diverse ideas, innovative solutions, and multiple points of view emerge.