Marketing is at the forefront of any business. It is the mechanism for showing people your front door, your shop window and how potential customers form their first perception of you. It’s not always about trying to sell your products – sometimes (almost always) you need to focus on your brand perception and the contribution you make to society.

Due to recent events, though unfortunately a long overdue conversation, the focus has been on how we can create a more equal world and reduce systemic racism. Unfortunately the business world is not exempt from the racial biases that are a product of our past. The upside is businesses are in a strong position to help undo this.

How?

Well. Businesses, of all sizes, have a huge influence over society and have the ability to create opportunities and provide representation to drive more aspiration. Whilst directors and HR teams are responsible for ensuring equal hiring opportunities and an inclusive workforce culture, marketing teams/people can take responsibility for creating representation, not presenting biases and ensuring that you use inclusive language at every turn. This is true for businesses of any size – even if your marketing is low budget, it’s important that you still consider your impact, especially on your owned social channels.

To help businesses out, I’ve created a quick list of items that you can go through to ensure you, as a marketer, are playing your role in reducing systemic racism. Though these points are developed with racial biases particularly in mind, they can also be used to assess biases and inclusivity for any minority group.

  1. Work with your internal HR (or diversity specialist) to educate yourself and your teams on correct language to use and how to establish existing biases in your own behaviours/choices. If you don’t have one internally it is worth investing in an external consultant to kick start your efforts. Further to this, there are a lot of resources freely available designed to educate on this specifically.
  2. Audit your current marketing efforts. One of the most important things you can do is to recognise your own weaknesses and areas for improvement. Check yourself on the people used in your images, check for racial stereotypes and cultural appropriation.
  3. Have a diverse focus group you can check any new content with.
  4. Do not participate in events that are not racially diverse.
  5. Do not spend with publishers or platforms that aren’t playing their part.

Finally, always be open for feedback and always look to seek improvement. We can only change the world if we all do our bit – businesses included.

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Cape Town, South Africa
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