How marketers can play their part to create a more equal world

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.


Workforce diversification – a marketer’s perspective

With an increased focus on reducing the gender gap between men and women in employment, it begs the question: how will this and how should it impact a company’s marketing strategy?

It’s a well-known fact that within different businesses men dominate the decision making positions. This is particularly true when looking at the target audience for technology companies, although I’m sure is common across many different sectors. This means that companies build their strategy based on trends associated with males due to the need to find commonality across their audience – often this leads to sports.

Sports is a huge industry that is tapped with sponsorships. You just have to look at all major teams, across pretty much any sport, to realise how many companies have skin in the game when it comes to marketing investment. Football, Rugby, Golf, Formula 1, American Football, Cricket, Tennis, The Olympic Games – you name it, there is sponsorship. It’s a no brainer when you look at the fan base – majority male which means that there is a high chance your company’s target audience is included within that fan base. But as stats from sports clubs show that their audience is predominantly male and efforts are being made in business to ensure women are in decision making positions – are companies at risk of missing the mark and creating a marketing gap?

What happens when the workforce does become more equally weighted between genders? Will sports still have a role to play or, will companies need to think about where else their target audience is consuming content? I’m not suggesting that this will happen overnight and that everyone should start pivoting away from the sporting industry as a leverage point with their customers, but one eye on the future does help.

Gender isn’t the only way in which job positions are evolving. Millennials are increasingly moving into roles where they have influence over decisions and even the power to make them autonomously. With each generation that moves into the workplace, marketers need to remember how their customers’ consumption habits & interests are also evolving.

What’s the latest social platform that is absorbing people’s attention? What media outlets are people trusting? Are they trusting media outlets at all? What roles do influencers play? What are the new generation’s interests?  Will e-sports outgrow the traditional sporting industry? How are consumers engaging with their interests? Does linear TV exist still? Is print completely obsolete or has it made a comeback?

There are so many variables that as marketers we need to stay aware of in how our industries and the people within them evolve.

It’s not just a generational movement either – of course we have to be aware of how the different generations are moving to different stages in their career but another area of focus is how the workforce is generally becoming younger. And this is current. There are a huge number of large companies now that focus on intern/graduate programmes and bringing ideas out from these populations into the boardroom. Stretch projects get assigned to teams of young employees to allow for a fresh perspective.

Imagine you’re a company with a solution to a problem that is being investigated by interns & graduates – aged generally between 18 and 25 years. Are you targeting them? Are you putting yourself in a position whereby this group of people could propose you as part of the solution? Or, are you so focused on hitting the c-suite, the older generation that you’re neglecting the fact that these young people have real influence?

Of course, it is a balancing act. Not all companies are entrusting the younger generation with decisions/influence points and it shouldn’t be a 100% pivot to only focusing on these audiences. At the end of the day, companies are waking up to the fact that a diverse workforce produces diverse thinking which produces success. So as marketers, we need to be where of that, not put all our eggs in one basket and not alienate groups of people that aren’t considered our traditional target audience.