“As a leader in R&I, Sade will work with brands to spur critical conversations that engage everyone and drive our world forward together,” stated Forbes Chief Revenue Officer Jessica Sibley.
Muhammad will also focus on connecting those campaigns to Forbes’ audience.
“All of us at Forbes have a unique and shared responsibility to tell the right stories, leverage the right voices and compel change,” Muhammad stated.
The company says it reaches more women and people of color across all demographics compared to other large media business publishers, citing Comscore data.
Forbes franchises like ForbesWomen, For(bes) The Culture and Under 30 highlight young, diverse entrepreneurs from a variety of backgrounds, Sibley said.
Muhammad joined Forbes in 2016 and worked directly with marketers while on the BrandVoice team, Forbes’ content marketing platform. She saw an opportunity to collaborate with underrepresented communities and create opportunities across the Forbes platform, as well as draw talent into the workforce from those communities.
This new representation and inclusion practice is “proactive from our end,” Muhammad said. “We identified this as an opportunity.”
“Brands are also on this journey,” Sibley added. “We want to collaborate directly with them.” Sibley noted it is important to have these conversations, but also to take actions.
“How do we as folks whose job it is to connect marketers with awesome opportunities across our business — how do we drive home inclusion and representation?” Muhammad told Publishers Daily.
The R&I practice and Muhammad’s position was formalized in January and brought to market.
“We are making this official — and a revenue side of our business — to our marketers, our brand partners and our customers,” Sibley said.
The representation and inclusion initiative focuses on three core components.
“Systems Change,” which drives conversations to address the root causes of a systems’ flaws and redesign the structures that prevent inclusion.
Muhammad said she is having discussions with Under 30 partners who work in the venture-capital space, for example, to create more opportunities for founders in underrepresented communities (such as Black and female founders) that lack networks and startup capital.
“What are the biggest pitfalls in venture capital? The systemic flaws in the industry, that rewards those that have had a head start?” she said.
“Representation and Inclusion,” a second component, focuses on customizing products and services to reflect an audience authentically.
“Having people in the room is, of course, important. But are those people and voices represented through messaging, products and services? Are their needs and wants and how they see themselves being represented in conversations? How do we help our marketers better represent and include the customers that they serve, or want to serve?” Muhammad said.
The R&I practice “really focuses on and hones in on identity,” she noted.
“The way [customers] see themselves translates into what they want and what they expect from companies,” Muhammad said.
“Learning and Performance,” the third component, looks at tailoring products and the workforce in recognition of the “diversity in how we learn, and the different abilities we have as learners,” Muhammad said.
Tomorrow, Sibley and Muhammad will give a presentation on the new R&I practice at the IAB’s virtual NewFronts.