Some people feel that trying to incorporate diversity into their marketing is a challenging and complex task.

Here’s my personal take on it – it matters. Be real. Be authentic. Be respectful. Be aware and be inclusive.

It matters, but it’s not always easy to implement. I have made mistakes in the past and I’ve learned from those errors. I continue to learn.

Around the world right now, there seems to be an awakening taking place, particularly with the Black Lives Matter movement. Learning is key to progress and awareness allows people to reflect on viewpoints they may not have considered before. This is a good thing.

Diversity marketing refers to marketing that recognizes and acknowledges the differences within the subgroups of a target market, including but not exclusive to race, age, gender, disability, religion, ethnicity, and sexual identity.

Being diverse and inclusive in your marketing boils down to ensuring everyone in your messaging is being treated and portrayed equally. Sometimes, it’s less about saying certain things to include people, but ensuring that you’re not communicating words or ideas that explicitly or implicitly exclude people.

Here are a few diversity tips to consider:

  1. Start with a diverse mindset:

    When planning your campaign, consider a multicultural and inclusive context right from the beginning. Plan for diversity from the start. Don’t wait until a campaign is running to try to squeeze in bits of representative language or imagery. Your audience will notice that the additions are an afterthought. People are diverse in many ways.

  2. Do the Research:

    Before brainstorming a campaign, do some research on great examples of inclusive language, marketing, and imagery. There are lots of strong resources online that explain why certain campaigns are diversity wins and why others are controversial or offend. Once you’ve taken the time to learn yourself – you can ask a colleague or team member to review for their opinion. They’ll appreciate that you put the work in before asking them for advice.

  3. Be sensitive:

    Messaging, language choice and imagery all evoke emotions. Consider how your use of imagery and language may impact others. A common oversight are power dynamics. For example, if you have a picture of a boss and employee, make sure that you’re switching up the race and gender of the person in charge so that there’s better representation.

  4. Consider gender diversity:

    Is your language gender-specific? Depending on who you are marketing to, you may have different requirements for language use. When reaching out to wider audiences, consider avoiding stereotypical gender-based language to allow for more people to relate to your messaging. Stick to neutral pronouns and words like they/them, chairperson (instead of chairman), and parenting (instead of mothering/fathering) to ensure everyone feels included.

I remember putting together a long and complex group of over 70+ slides once. Our team worked hard on the language and the consistent feel of the presentation so that every piece worked together. When we gave the draft to our client, she ran it by a few others to test it out.

I was horrified, embarrassed and genuinely felt terrible when one of the comments came back, “Looks great but I don’t see many people in the photos who look like me.” We had completely missed the visual diversity component! Over 70 slides and every single person in every single image was white.

That’s not accurate for Canada or anywhere else in the world. That sinking feeling still sits with me. Of course, we learned from our error and corrected it but here’s the thing…

We all have biases. We need to be aware.

I was so grateful for that feedback! It showed me that what is in my heart wasn’t actually being portrayed in my actions or in this case, our work. I was grateful for that feedback because it reminded me to open my eyes even wider and to try to keep them open all the time.

Be willing to listen and learn because even though you may think you are open minded, we all have room to grow.

Embracing diversity results in a richer and more inclusive world for everyone, especially those you are seeking to support.

This post was originally published on CP Business Solutions website.

Catherine Priestman
CP Business Solutions