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Improving diversity & inclusion in marketing

November 11, 2021 / Reading Time: 4 minutes /
Robin Cooke
Account Director

Diversity and inclusion is incredibly important for all of us – and increasingly so in digital marketing. Whereas we all strive to live up to the responsibility we have as marketeers to represent a realistic, favourable and positive view of all walks of life, it’s fair to admit that few of us do all we can in this area. 

Diversity at clicky

We need to focus on this issue, and we can do some big but simple things to tip the balance in favour of making positive and permanent changes that focus on different walks of life, experiences we have, and as the equality-focused businesses we all strive to be. Here are some key considerations we can all do:

Start your own equality and diversity group.

It’s surprising to see how much diversity there already is in a workforce, and learning how to promote this and where you fall short is something you can only do if you start the conversation.

Here at Clicky, we’ve started a diversity and inclusion team internally, called Clicky=, with the intention of getting like-minded and enthusiastic colleagues together to openly discuss what we do well, and what we don’t with regards to diversity and inclusion. Each of us has their reasons to be involved that might not be immediately obvious, but with reasons ranging from colour-blindness to where we’re from, it showed us that it’s not always the obvious things that define diversity and it’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all approach.

Discussing ethnicity representation in our own team, the language we use in our own promotional materials, gender representation and unseen disabilities, the more we discuss this topic the more we realise we need to – and can do – more to make a positive impact in being more aware of the people we work with and want to work with.

Having key deliverables that are visible and real, and then shouting about the progress you make is something that’s worth celebrating.

Get your data working for you.

As digital marketers, we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to data. The amount of information we all have at our fingertips about our own workforce, our customers and the wider world is vast. Take time to understand what’s available to you and pull meaningful figures on representation of gender, race, pay gaps, parental status and anything you can to understand your own workforce and those of your client base, and compare that to the way you market yourselves.

Are the imagery and copy you use in your promotional materials in line with the demographics of the market you’re targeting? You’ll only know where you are with this if you do the research, but the good thing is that it’s easy to expose some pretty powerful findings with minimal effort.

Make your site content more inclusive.

It’s no secret that inclusion isn’t a marketer’s first thought when it comes to developing content for a site. It’s also fair to say that when considering how to make content more diverse, the first thought might be to do the standard checklists of an even spread of imagery including people of colour and varying physical abilities. It’s not enough to just tick a box, and it doesn’t come across as well-thought-out.

Audiences aren’t always thinking of themselves when it comes to this arena and they can see through thinly-veiled attempts at this. Reflect your audience from the data and research you’ve done, as above, and ensure that your text reflects inclusion honestly rather than forcibly, using gender-neutral terminology if applicable.

This requires your writers and editors to avoid assumptions and instead question what they know. It often requires a major shift in thinking, but with practice it can become second nature.

Imagery on-site can easily be tweaked to reflect your business’ aims to promote diversity as well, yet more fundamental changes to the design of your site may be required to make sure you’re complying with accessibility standards. Don’t neglect the simpler, more fundamental things though – you should use alt-text on all images on your website to accurately describe what each image shows to help with visually impaired visitors.

Don’t go overboard with any of this – a little goes a long way, but if it’s baked into your content strategy, over time this approach of diversity and inclusion will begin to pay off. By improving accessibility and showing greater consideration to inclusion, you’re effectively widening your net for potential customers.

Focus on your audience’s perception of your brand.

What kind of a brand do you want to be perceived as?

Shaping that perception determines the success (or failure) of your brand, so it’s essential you’re aware of what you want to be. Inclusion and diversity needs to form a part of this to varying degrees, but it’s vital to keep in mind that customers will consciously or unconsciously make this decision about you based on what you do – so it’s advisable to own this.

If a customer has a positive experience with your brand, your brand earns trust. Earned trust increases the chance that they’ll choose your brand over your competitors, so it’s important to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. 64% of those surveyed in a Google/Ipsos study said they took some sort of action after seeing an ad that they considered to be diverse or inclusive.

Key to this is being authentic with your efforts – if it’s clear that your efforts show you value diversity and see its advantages, then it’ll come across that way. 

This is the tip of the iceberg, with a huge amount more that you can do, but we all have to start somewhere. By consciously addressing that we don’t do this well – or at all in some cases – you’re paving a path to improvement.

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