Over the last year, companies and marketers were given the opportunity to better connect with their customers and create real, meaningful change.
As businesses around the world juggled the global pandemic and the overdue push for systemic change, it became even more critical for companies to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) was thoughtfully considered in every facet of a company and their go-to-market strategy. Now comes a critical moment to pause and examine not just what has changed since then but what still needs to be done.
In the For(bes) the Culture’s inaugural Black and Brown in Corporate America survey, 55% of respondents said their employers aren’t transparent about progress when it comes to DE&I goals, while 53% don’t believe they’re meeting their goals. So while we seem to be rounding the corner of the pandemic, the fight for equality in the workplace still has a way to go.
Each industry carries this responsibility. For marketing, the responsibility of its public-facing platform bears a lot of weight. After all, 71% of consumers prefer buying from companies that are aligned with their values. To help marketers find their way forward, we’ve identified four central themes to keep in mind as we continue to cultivate our new version of normal—with DE&I top of mind.
- Belonging. The more connected a customer feels to your products or services, the more they’ll feel like they belong with your brand. And a true sense of belonging is the difference between a one-time customer and a life-long customer. Yet many of today’s brands miss the mark by excluding groups—whether consciously or not. Some brands like Sephora used data to hold themselves accountable for creating a more inclusive company. Others turned to immersing themselves in their customer’s environments or giving their customers more agency. While division was a huge theme last year, belonging will stay at the forefront in 2021.
- Reallocation. 2020 changed how many spent their time—and their dollars. Small businesses everywhere faced many challenges last year, but they also received a new wave of support. Consumers were encouraged to buy from underrepresented brands and shop locally throughout the pandemic. Lists that highlighted minority-owned businesses—from Black-owned to female-owned—were widely shared. Even tech companies set out to make this reallocation of spending easier. Earlier this month, Yelp introduced a new tool to help users find and support local LGBTQ-owned businesses. Moving forward, marketers will need to ask themselves, where are you reallocating? Because today’s consumers want receipts.
- Accessibility. The demand for accessibility grew louder in 2020. The CDC estimates that one in four adults in the U.S. lives with some form of disability. So when the world was forced behind a screen, those with disabilities all had different needs. From adding closed captioning to commercials to including a sign language interpreter at virtual events, marketing leaders had to design campaigns with inclusivity and accessibility in mind. The path to progress includes the opportunity to increase ad viewability, fix the portrayal of disabilities, and provide equal access to marketing.
- Representation. Representation of underrepresented minorities in advertising isn’t where it needs to be. Recent data showed that only 1.9% of the characters in ads featured at the Cannes Lions festival included LGBTQ+ individuals. To help combat this inequity, GLAAD and Procter & Gamble recently announced The Visibility Project, a new campaign that aims to inspire greater inclusion and acceptance of LGBTQ+ in marketing. But it’s not as simple as increasing diversity in your content—authenticity and quality matter. Another recent study from UCLA and Starz found that 63.7% of respondents believe representation in quality content is more important than the overall quantity of content in which they are represented.
Now is the time to take accountability for where you and your company stand when it comes to DE&I. Take stock on how your company participates in the fight for equality—because it will no doubt become a part of your business’ legacy.
Read Also: 4 Inclusive Marketing Trends For 2021 That Will Impact Your Brand
For every business idea that moves the needle, there’s a spectacular presentation that drives home the entrepreneur’s vision and galvanizes potential investors. Paste by WeTransfer—an award-winning tool for turning messy ideas into beautiful slides—wanted to be the home for these forward-thinking visions.
They turned to Forbes to partner on a business ideas contest for budding entrepreneurs. Three winners would receive a cash prize and ongoing mentorship from the Forbes 30 Under 30 community. What stood out from the highly designed content wasn’t just the impressions, click rate or page views. The real success was the impact the mentorship had on the winners and how WeTransfer delivered on their brand values.
WeTransfer didn’t just promote their new product; they helped three budding entrepreneurs promote their brands. With the help of the Under 30 community, winners got to understand how to identify their own mission, master investor communication and refine their elevator pitch. One winner of the program said:
“Just three months ago, we could have never imagined being accepted into this program and the momentum it would provide to our finances, networks, and general VC knowledge. The Paste It Forward Program has given us the conviction to double down on our efforts and build upon our momentum in 2021 through multiple competitions /accelerators (UPenn, UMich, etc.), pilots, and product development.”
You see, the brands that will win in 2021 will not be the ones who only focus on their ROI—they’ll be the ones who also focus on their investment into the future.
See Also: Meet the Paste it Forward Contest Winners
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