I was traveling through a New York international airport when specific advertising caught my eye. It was one of those lit-up, nine-grid banner spots and advertised a health system. The purpose was to promote their care of the community and the banner included photographs of people living life with smiling faces.
Unfortunately, the photos didn’t represent “community” in the way I define it. Nor in the way, I would hope, most people define community. There were no people of color represented. No people with disabilities. No relationships other than what appeared to be nuclear families. All the photos were of able-bodied white people in various settings. How is this shortsighted mentality still happening in 2017? And especially when advertising for community health in an international airport?
Likely, the answer is that the marketing team (or advertising firm) is itself not diverse. Quite often human beings perceive stories with characters who look like them. It takes thought and intentionality to be diverse and inclusive of others.
Diversity and Inclusion Done Well
I recently came upon a vision statement that personally inspired me. It was from Diversity Awareness Partnership, an organization that strives to increase awareness, facilitate engagement, and provide education about diversity and inclusion.
“Diversity Awareness Partnership’s vision is inclusive communities where diversity is respected and embraced, and equity is the norm.”
Isn’t that a powerful statement? And when you consider that community can be defined as your neighborhood, your friends and family, your church, your support network, and where you work, this vision is incredibly impactful. Communities without diversity and inclusion are not achieving their full potential. It is well documented that diverse companies achieve better financial results – they achieve innovation faster, they attract better talent, and they can better understand and serve their customers who are also likely diverse.
Three Questions to Ask to Achieve Diversity and Inclusion in Your Marketing
What does your marketing material say about your company and your customers? Here are some questions to consider, regardless of your role in your organization:
- How well does your advertising represent your company? Your interests? Your vision and mission?
- Does your marketing campaign target all potential consumers of your products and services?
- Does your marketing department represent the vision you are promoting as a company? And if not, how can you ensure they are more thoughtful?
Organizations that market to “communities,” but are perceived to exclude specific segments, are sending the wrong message. I sincerely hope that the health system in question was merely ignorant and not overtly exclusive. I hope they learn and can apply “know better, do better” and are intentional and thoughtful in their future advertising.
Every employee and every organization sits somewhere on the diversity and inclusion spectrum. The gaps between employees and the company can be quite large. At Root, we can provide you with a useful lens and then collaborate on creative ways to move your organization to the next level of inclusion. It’s something I’m passionate about. I’d love to hear more about how your organization is thoughtful and intentional about diversity and inclusion in your marketplace.