By Darren W. Martin Jr.
Brands and agencies are struggling with the challenge of improving diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Many executives struggle with taking on these issues for fear that it will force them to take focus away from their mission of delivering value to shareholders, but in fact these are mission critical to ensuring the long-term health of any modern company. The journey to reshaping your organization may take time, but with the right framework you will secure the future of your company.
It will be an undertaking that will require a change in company culture, processes, focus and resources.
Bold Culture takes a comprehensive approach to diversity and inclusion because we know culture and identity are a part of every input and output of a company.
Here are 3 comprehensive ways to approach your diversity and inclusion efforts.
1. Assess your internal talent and external campaigns
It is important to understand the culture of your company from the eyes of your current and past employees and partners. Assess if employees feel included, if they feel as if their work and ideas contribute to the success of the company, if they feel their team works well together. Ask for suggestions. This is the first step to figuring out where your company actually lies along the spectrum of diversity and inclusion.
We tend to miss this but this is where the value lies for consumers. Companies should assess their marketing campaigns and understand the multicultural focus and makeup of each campaign. If a campaign was not targeted to multicultural audiences, what potential missed revenue and brand opportunity did your company assume? How much was spent on “general market” audiences and how much was placed in the “multicultural audience”?
2. Diversify and Promote Inclusion
Build visibility of diverse talent across the board
People need to see representation of themselves at all rungs of the ladder to feel included and inspired. Additionally, diverse leaders build more inclusive teams and have a higher rate of productivity.
Understanding is the first step toward establishing a connection. When a leader is grounded in empathy, they understand how certain situations can have a different impact on different team members. From that understanding, the way a team member is led, or the conversations had with a team, will come from an intentional place of building a community of different-minded people banding together for a common cause. Lead those conversations and build trust and understanding across your team through continuous open communication.
Be intentional with leadership
As one leads a team, be sure to be intentional about how members are led. Be intentional about engaging diverse talent in an authentic way. Call on someone who doesn’t speak up much in meetings, assign a project to someone that stretches their interest, be a mentor. This is how you build teams with a common understanding of each other and the mission of the company.
Rethink who can do this work
Step outside of what you think the best candidate for the job normally looks like. Step outside of pattern matching. Think of those who are of diverse backgrounds or individuals with a disability. People who are diverse and those with a disability have always used their differences to make creative, innovative solutions for living. How can use those skills be used to grow a team and work toward your mission?
3. Measure Progress and Set Goals
You are not going to solve a diversity and inclusion issue in three or four months and one or two workshops will barely scratch the surface. Set realistic goals with your team on how this issue could be addressed.
Be intentional with hiring and diversifying marketing efforts practices. A good example of this was Netflix’s recent Strong Black Lead campaign and its decision to have an “ongoing, intentional focus to talk authentically with the black audience.” They are investing capital in providing culturally authentic experiences for their diverse audiences. No matter if you’re in HR or marketing, be that intentional about building diversity and inclusion practices into all company efforts across different teams and at all levels.
Speaks for itself. Continue to do the work even when you think it’s working. Refine and innovate along the way as you would for a client.
Though executives hate to be the last in line (or leading the line in bad diversity practices), they should be focused on creating industry benchmarks with allies and competitors. The industries need to know where they stand to get better. And if you can’t set benchmarks across the industry, set goal of a benchmark across your company and become the standard.
As we’ve stated, executing this list may take time and assistance to get right. Ensure you work with partners like Bold Culture, The One Club for Creativity and more to plan and execute a more custom strategy for a more diverse and inclusive company culture.