Companies should bring these groups into marketing and client conversations, incorporating their insights and needs. ERGs can help businesses better serve their wide range of consumers. However, to have diverse ERGs you must first have a diverse workforce as well as participation from all levels and sectors of your business. And don’t expect your ERGs to contribute to DE&I efforts for free—their valuable counsel deserves supplemental income.
Spread DE&I everywhere
Many brands now rightfully acknowledge calendar moments including Black History Month, Pride and Juneteenth. However, these moments are often celebrated in corporate headquarters and among senior staffers rather than companywide.
If leaders are going to get involved in Black History Month activities or establish paid time off for Juneteenth, they need to ensure this applies to all employees, including those in factories and retail sites, which statistically comprise more Black and brown individuals.
Align corporate DE&I policies with marketing
Brands can't celebrate Pride if they don't have a public stance on anti-trans bills. And it’s difficult for a brand to be active in Black or brown culture without having a point of view on the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.
Brands need to come off the fence and align what comes out of CEOs’ mouths with their marketing.
Pay attention to Hispanic consumers
Latinx communities make up 19% of the U.S. population, and the U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2050, the Latinx population will grow to about 30%. This includes Afro-Latinx people, an underserved intersectional group that’s vibrant and vital in the consumer market, who make up 24% of all Hispanic Americans. And as of 2019, Americans of Mexican origin account for nearly 62%. The buying power of all Latinx people grew by 87% from 2010 to 2020. By 2025, they are expected to account for 12% of all U.S. buying power.
While brands are rightly putting their focus on supporting Black History Month and Black communities, they should also be catering to the needs and pain points of Latinx consumers. Brands need to think about who they’re targeting and how they can better position themselves for the future.
Mark June 2022 on your calendar
It could be a month like no other. June will mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex. It’s arguably one of the most significant pieces of civil rights legislation in America’s history. June is also Pride Month, challenging brands to prove to LGBTQ+ consumers that they’re as thoughtful about intersectional, systemic issues of inequality as they are about colorful merch.
There’s a serious wild card this year: In June, it’s possible the Supreme Court will repeal Roe v. Wade. If that happens, how will brands respond? There is virtually no gray area when it comes to transphobia, homophobia or racism—consumers have largely reached a consensus that all of the above are fundamentally wrong. There is, however, a gray area with abortion: This highly contentious issue remains up for cultural debate. Brands must be prepared for a possible reckoning in June, and where they’ll choose to stand given the outcome.
The bottom line is that DE&I is not just an internal mindset. It should be visible, thoughtful and active everywhere–from your brand’s creative and messaging to its core values. Times have changed and, as the saying goes, one must adapt or die. To ensure your brand doesn’t fall behind or end up on the wrong side of the conversation, keep these points top of mind.
Don’t miss the latest news. Sign up for Ad Age newsletters here.