With Pride Month in full swing and Juneteenth right around the corner, how can marketing teams reach out to and support the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities? Think outside the hashtag and the corporate statement box with these fresh ideas:
Think local. Short-lived corporate diversity and inclusion initiatives don’t cut it. DE&I must be embedded into every company’s culture. Speak to your teams about what your office can do to promote inclusivity within the organization. One idea is to concentrate on more diverse recruitment practices. The more diverse the teams, the more diverse the marketing campaigns.
Don’t forget intersectionality. Plenty of companies have stumbled trying to reach diverse audiences. Skittles has repeatedly missed the mark with its limited-edition Pride Month packaging: an all-white bag featuring these words: “During Pride, only one rainbow matters. So we’ve given up ours to show support.” In an attempt to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community, the campaign backfires. Coming out with an all-white candy during Pride reeks of racism.
Avoid this sort of misstep by considering intersectional population segments. Each customer is unique and may fall into multiple social groups; ensure your marketing plans reflect that. In the case of Skittles, the BIPOC audience was overlooked, resulting in an insensitive, tone-deaf message.
Familiarize yourself with the Diversity and Inclusion Wheel (see image above). While created for public relations professionals, this is also an excellent resource when planning marketing campaigns. Developed by Gina Luttrell and Adrienne Wallace, based on work from Dr. Lee Gardenswartz and Dr. Anita Rowe, DEI researchers, the wheel helps communication and marketing professionals make informed, diversity-first decisions when brainstorming campaign ideas.
The wheel goes beyond typical demographics like age and gender, featuring additional population subsets to consider when reaching out to unique, multifaceted groups. For example, the wheel’s 17 subcategories include traits like learning styles, political beliefs and recreational habits -– all important when crafting marketing plans. With repeated use of the wheel, you’ll build strong, long-lasting habits, and thinking about diverse audiences will become second nature.
Celebrate Black and LGTBQIA+ pioneers. There’s no shortage of diverse leaders across all industries, but they're frequently overlooked by their white, straight, cisgender cohorts. Honor these trailblazers by including them in your marketing strategy.
Perhaps you’re designing a campaign for a video game client. Why not take to social media and share photos or inspiring quotes from Ken Coleman, the first black executive in Hewlett Packard’s IT department? Or perhaps your Unix customer can write a byline profiling Mary Ann Horton, a transwoman who helped develop Usenet in the 1980s.
Consumers are paying close attention to diversity and inclusion now more than ever. The fight for equality is nothing new and isn’t going anywhere. Neglect it and run the risk of losing your potential customers and coming across as tone-deaf.