Sold as a catchall solution to the problem of diversity in marketing and advertising, the total market approach only illuminated the need for multicultural work to be better integrated into the entire business rather than being just an offshoot of the marketing department. To make this work, though, we need to innovate media metrics to give diversity, equity, and inclusion programs the same level of measurability and importance as any other business initiative.
By fully incorporating DEI programs into your business and weaving business objectives together with diversity goals, you can avoid falling into the trap of tokenism in the workplace. Here are three key strategies that can help your team avoid a toxic advertising agency culture and start making a home for minority talent:
Tie DEI goals to managers’ performance
Managers are crucial in the fight for genuine diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Tie DEI goals to managers’ performance evaluations, and they will start feeling more of a responsibility for the representation on their teams.
Part of a manager’s job should be to create a sense of belonging. Although atmosphere and culture are hard to quantify, there are ways to measure inclusiveness. If managers can spend time talking to employees, surveying the way they feel at work, and measuring engagement in activities designed to increase belonging, they can be crucial in the fight for diversity in advertising.
Back up talk with commitment
Sometimes, companies engage in promoting inclusion in the workplace just enough to avoid media scrutiny. They talk the talk but shy away from action, perhaps because of the perceived costs of multicultural work. This is why there continues to be a lack of diversity in advertising agencies: There is a feeling among leaders that there won’t be an incremental return on investment.
Solve inaction by making a financial investment that commits your organization to real change. Back up your marketing imagery by making a good faith effort toward social justice and showing employees why inclusion matters in the workplace.
Root out tokenism
It can be easy to pay lip service to diversity in advertising agencies, and tokenism can be tough to spot. The beauty industry has been particularly bad for showing tokens of diversity, yet not measuring up in its practices. Initiatives such as Pull Up For Change have begun to push back against brands hiring influencers of color for show.
However, there are ways to identify when tokenism is occurring and whether brands genuinely want to improve their multicultural outreach. Are people of color actually making decisions, for example? Look across the CMO category, and you’ll find a very low percentage of that role filled by people of color.
To avoid tokenism, brands need to move away from displays of diversity and focus on genuinely measuring and promoting inclusion in their workplaces. Talk to employees, get managers involved and root out examples of stereotyping and diversity lip service, and it will be possible to start nudging the needle toward real change.
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