The following was previously published in an earlier edition of Marketing Insider.
Over the past few years, we have all come to better recognize and understand the importance and impact of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) on businesses and organizations. Some companies were doing things much sooner, but the past two years have proven that DE&I needs to be universally addressed.
There are a lot of good intentions and energy surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion these days — plans, training, conversations, etc. — but where progress needs to be made is in measuring the impact and effectiveness, as well as holding people accountable. We need real KPIs and timelines for when things will get done, and to what degree.
My company has continued to push on this, putting in place tools and processes to measure what we are trying to do, how we will get there, and when. But it’s important to note that these efforts are not a destination where the work will stop one day. DE&I is a continual, relentless journey.
Making It Happen
Senior leaders who want to ensure that DE&I is prioritized within their organizations need to lead from the front. Don’t take a backseat on this. Leadership needs to participate and let everyone know, “We’re all doing this and we’re all going to be accountable.”
If leadership doesn’t show up, it signals that others don’t need to be present and there are more important things to be done. There are not.
When marketing and business leaders want to drive their own organizational efforts around DE&I, here are recommendations for how they can make true progress in 2022 and beyond:
1. Align your efforts with your marketing work and agency partnerships. There should be a coordinated effort around the work you collectively put into the market. Aligning on what you’re doing from an internal organizational perspective is part of that, but it goes much deeper: How is DE&I showing up in the work? How are you addressing diverse audiences and needs with authentic representation and understanding? Is DE&I found in your products and programs? And when you have alignment with agencies, you can learn from each other and share ideas on what has been successful.
2. Build strong, diverse teams. To get great work and represent diverse audiences, you need diversity of thought. If your teams are largely homogenized, it’s imperative to begin the work of bringing in more representation. The more experiences, perspectives, personalities, and backgrounds you add to your roster, the more thoughtful, relevant, and nuanced the output will be.
3. Be transparent about what you do (and don’t) know. Particularly when it comes to DE&I, we should be learning all the time and not be afraid to let people know when we don’t understand something. Admit when you make a mistake and recognize when you may have unintentionally impacted people or the organization. You aren’t expected to have all the answers, but you are expected to acknowledge that. The mantra should be: Progress over perfection.