The Relationship Between Diversity and Marketing


The world has always been a place of diverse and unique perspectives. Now, more than ever, there’s an emphasis on allowing room for all of those voices in the workplace.Millennials — who accounted for one- third of the U.S. labor force as of 2016, according to the Pew Research Center — have grown up in a world where diversity is not only an economically beneficial aspect of the workplace, but a moral and ethical necessity.

Ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to earn above-average revenue, while gender-diverse companies are 15 percent more likely, according to a 2015 report from management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. The inclusion of more voices contributes to more empathetic workplaces, more inclusive messaging, more accountability for both employees and leaders, and more dynamic teams. Your marketing team and messages can be a powerful aspect of your company’s diversity and inclusion practices.

The Perfect Place to Start

The value placed on diversity and inclusion in the workplace is not the only thing changing. The way we understand diversity has shifted as well. Today, our differences are acknowledged, our individual and collective histories are celebrated, and our stories are valued. Marketing is about telling those stories, allowing your organization to tap into what your audience members want: to see themselves reflected in the narratives they consume. Your marketing team has to create these messages in a way that is both effective and respectful.

What does this mean for your team members? It means they have to be diverse so your stories can reflect their different perspectives. Think of all of the misfires and miscommunications started from campaigns that didn’t factor in basic cultural sensitivity. A collaborative team of people from different backgrounds results in clearer, more compassionate messages that genuinely resonate with a diverse audience. Think of your team as a reflection of the world.

A more inclusive marketing team raises both accountability and creativity. In 2011, a study published in Management Science found that teams made up of an equal number of men and women outperformed other teams because of a higher level of “mutual monitoring.” As long as communication is encouraged, these teams often check in with each other, leading to more efficient results. The same might be said for moral accountability because each individual brings perspectives on certain issues, helping the team become more aware and, therefore, more empathetic at marketing.

The creativity brought on by each new point of view coming together in these teams has been proven time and again. A 2009 study titled “Ethnic Diversity and Creativity in Small Groups” examined what happened when teams were given a brainstorming assignment for a particular hypothetical. Groups made up of people from different ethnic backgrounds were able to develop more “effective and feasible” ideas than more homogenous groups. Collaboration, communication and openness become integral to teams like the successful ones in the study, allowing room for unexpected, original ideas that are respectful and effective.

A High Priority

This value of diversity and inclusion extends beyond just the content your company produces. It affects the company’s very culture. Those millennials who make up one-third of the workforce will soon be joined by employees who belong to Gen Z, a group that has inherited an understanding that the world is more interesting and relatable through diversity.

A study published in December 2017 by the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) and public relations firm Weber Shandwick indicated 47 percent of millennials consider diversity and inclusion an important consideration when they’re considering where to work. An inclusive team not only improves your content and strategy but creates a more appealing environment for potential employees.

The current workforce, the same people creating and consuming today’s marketing messages, clearly values diversity. People can see right through a mission to simply fill a quota. Making a point to provide opportunities to talented and deserving individuals from every background should always come from a real desire to hear from and really listen to those individuals. This keeps your company culture in step with the evolving world around it.

About the author

Cherise Czaban

Cherise Czaban

Cherise Czaban is the publisher of i4 Business magazine and the CEO of i4 Business LLC. She formerly served as vice president of business development for SCB Marketing, the previous publishers of i4 Business.

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