We are in the midst of a cultural shift. Over the past year, discussions and movements concentrated on Diversity & Inclusion have been at the forefront of our society. Now more than ever, embodying Diversity & Inclusion in your marketing efforts will be extremely important throughout 2021 and beyond. Brands should lead this cultural shift and be committed to annihilating the unfair biases that specifically affect black communities, LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities, and women. It is your job as a marketer to make your brand and website relatable, so that it represents all people, including those underserved communities. Action is necessary in order to help everyone, so learn how you can celebrate Diversity through your key communication channel – your website.
What Is The “Diversity & Inclusion Standard”?
Brands across the globe have adopted the “Diversity and Inclusion Standard”, which ensures equal employment opportunities for all people, regardless of age, gender, religion, race, sexual orientation, and disability. Not only should these differences be acknowledged, but also celebrated. ADP’s Chief Diversity and Social Responsibility Officer, Rita Mitjans, explains that “Diversity focuses on the makeup of your workforce, and inclusion is a measure of culture that enables Diversity to thrive, requiring that everyone’s contributions be valued.” Furthermore, the British Banker’s Association notes that Diversity “is a concept that is perceived as not only providing fairness from an employment perspective, but also offering a new way to boost returns and ensure future business success.” Not only does Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace ensure fairness and equality for all, but it also helps your business to thrive in an ever-changing society.
How to Effectively Integrate This Standard into Your Marketing
The importance of Diversity & Inclusion is clear, but how can you adapt that to your own website and marketing practices? The motivation for companies to include this in their marketing strategy should not be based on the idea that this is an “obligation.” Merely including a short blurb, buried deep within your website, or selecting more diverse stock photography, is not actually being “diverse” or “inclusive”, and you end up missing the mark on this initiative altogether. The underserved communities have been starving for attention, so although the corporate world is now shifting to adapting these practices, these groups have been out of the spotlight for years and should be given the recognition they deserve.
In order to ensure this takes place, your brand must truly listen to the needs of all of your customers/members, learn what is working for them at your company or institution, and how you can improve upon your product and service offering in a way that can help. Equality should not only be applied at the employee recruitment and hiring level, but also in regard to ensuring the people represented in your advertising and publicity reflect diverse communities. This should also be applied to vendor selection, volunteerism, and philanthropy.
The Diversity & Inclusion work your company is doing should not be an afterthought or add-on to the efforts you are already making, but instead should lie within the heart of your brand. In order to achieve this, hold discussions, seminars, and webinars for your employees and customers; bring in experts focused on DEI, approach these conversations with an open mind, a willingness to listen and learn, and a desire to truly rid the world of unfair prejudices. Each brand should customize DEI practices specifically for your individual business or institution, since you know your staff, members, and stakeholders best and can be an effective contributor to this worldwide movement.
Diversity & Inclusion should definitely have a top-down effect, with commitment to these practices starting with upper management and trickling down to all employees. The executives set the tone and direction for the entire company, so it is imperative there is a clear-cut plan in place for employees, that the entire organization is behind.
Understanding Your Audiences
It is crucial for your audience to see themselves in your brand, products, and services, and there is not one image that can effectively convey that. Most importantly, potential customers trust brands that they feel represent their key demographics. This assures them that you fully understand their challenges and needs and are more than capable of providing them with an efficient and effective solution. Not only does your audience want to feel represented, but they also want to see diverse groups represented in your branding and website as well. In fact, 64% of consumers who participated in a 2019 Google Consumer Survey reported on taking an action after seeing an advertisement they felt best represented Diversity & Inclusion.
It is helpful for you to research your audience in order to understand the kinds of representation you can document such as income, geography, gender, race, etc. You also might want to speak directly with your customer-facing employees, or even conduct focus groups in order to understand each characteristic of your audience. This will help you create audience personas which reflect the various characteristics of your organization and will also ensure that you represent more than one perspective.
Best Practices for Optimizing Your Website For Diversity & Inclusion
Your brand’s website communicates how important Diversity & Inclusion is to your business, goals, and success. It is important to keep in mind the following best practices when optimizing your website to ensure it’s reflective of today’s diverse audiences:
There should be a Diversity presence on the homepage of the website - whether this is displayed in images, included in a mission statement, or directly linking to the Diversity & Inclusion page. The homepage of your website provides your visitors with the first impression of your brand, and also gives them an idea of the efforts your company is making in the Diversity landscape.
The “About Us” section of the website should include a direct link to a “Diversity & Inclusion” page that explains your business or institution’s commitment and efforts.
Searching the site for “Diversity” keywords should take the reader directly to that related content.
Including a “Diversity Statement” from the CEO or upper-level management showcases that DEI starts at the top and works its way down throughout the organization.
Website imagery (not just in the Diversity & Inclusion section) should showcase people from underserved groups, especially in management positions.
Website ADA Conformance and Its’ Importance To Diversity & Inclusion
Website ADA Conformance also plays a large part in Diversity & Inclusion.
Over 61 million Americans live with a physical or mental disability. Those Americans are less likely than those who do not have a disability to use the internet daily. They also have a lower level of confidence in their ability to use the internet, and 69% will instantly leave a website if it does not meet their accessibility needs.
90% of commercial websites are not ADA conformant, and this poses a huge roadblock for over 16% of the U.S. population.
Not only will making a website accessible provide equal opportunity to people with disabilities, but it also increases your brand’s audience reach, creates a better user experience, ensures compliance with current guidelines, and can support search engine optimization goals as well.
You can help support website ADA conformance by running regular site scans for accessibility issues, training your staff on ADA conformance best practices, and confirming all posted documents and media files meet ADA conformance standards too. Additional practices you can implement to ensure your website is easily accessible to all include adding alternative text to images, ensuring your website is navigable using only a keyboard, providing a transcript for audio and video files, confirming text size and contrast against standards, and more.
Brands Who Practice What They Preach
A business’ Diversity page on their website is crucial in displaying their commitment to Diversity & Inclusion in their workplace, products, services, processes, branding, and community. The Diversity page includes an extensive overview of your DEI practices to show potential candidates the importance of Diversity in your community. Additionally, this page helps generate increased organic traffic for Diversity & Inclusion keywords related to your brand and company name.
Here are some brands that are doing an excellent job of incorporating Diversity & Inclusion into their business models and websites:
Adidas includes a comprehensive overview of the nationalities, ages, women in management positions, and more that are represented at their company.
Diversity is displayed throughout the imagery on their website, including age, race, gender, location, and more.
AT&T humanizes their Diversity page by incorporating photographs of real people employed by AT&T in each of the underserved communities. The user is taken to separate pages, which provide additional information as to how AT&T is being inclusive with each community.
AT&T features all of the Diversity Awards they have received front and center on their website. This is especially crucial, because it lets potential candidates know that a brand isn’t just all talk when it comes to Diversity & Inclusion.
A testimonial from the Diversity Officer is featured prominently on the page, not only showing the Diversity within upper management, but also providing a deeper sense of how AT&T prioritizes Diversity.
AT&T highlights the importance of Diversity to their overall brand by being transparent about the percent of their budget that is allocated towards Diversity Initiatives.
They also publish helpful blog content which encourages employees and potential clients to make a change. Unfortunately, in our society there is a fine line between social, economic, and political learnings, but now is always the right time to do what is right.
AT&T also participates in over a dozen Employee Research Groups and Employee Networks, which are committed to making all people feel represented, understood, heard, and seen.
AT&T partners with over 30 Diversity organizations to improve their employee pipeline.
Lastly, AT&Ts impressive Annual Diversity Report measures the Diversity within their organization to ensure that all groups are being represented at every level.
Proctor & Gamble
Employee candidates and customers are interested in your current efforts, campaigns, and initiatives focused on Diversity & Inclusion. Proctor & Gamble
features compelling campaigns focused on Diversity and unfair biases for the underserved communities, like this #talkaboutbias video
The main header image on the website showcases an image of the diverse team that works at AT&T, in a fun, welcoming environment.
Their Mission Statement, “Everyone valued. Everyone included. Everyone performing at their peak. ™ It’s who we are, it’s what we believe, and it’s how we operate – every day.” is a testament to their commitment to Diversity & Inclusion in everything they are and everything they do.
How Diversity Applies to Banks & Credit Unions
Financial institutions, along with the people who work for them as well as the people they serve, play an integral part in America’s communities. Because of their ability to enable growth in the economy, along with their leadership roles and civic duties, they can make a positive difference when it comes to Diversity in the workforce and economic inclusion.
CUNA policy makers state that “to remain relevant in a changing marketplace, credit unions [and banks] need to continue to serve diverse members and deepen their reach.” One way in which they achieve this is through Low-Income Designated Credit Unions and Community Development Financial Institutions. CUNA members also stated that “Credit unions have a long history of reaching and serving diverse and underserved populations.” This is especially important today because the U.S. Census population continues to prove year over year that the United States is becoming increasingly diverse.
Financial institutions are more recently focusing their efforts to incorporate these Diversity & Inclusion best practices in their organizations moving forward. As of March 2021, the FDIC released their strategic DEI plans through 2023, which focus on culture, career, communication, consistency, and community. From an internal perspective, the FDIC will integrate these goals into their hiring and career advancement programs. From an external standpoint, they will focus on Diversity & Inclusion through their contracting opportunities, as well as assessing financial institutions’ Diversity policies, and providing support for Minority Depository Institutions. FDIC Chairman, Jelena McWilliams, shared that her “goal is to build and maintain an FDIC workforce that is talented, diverse, and committed to fostering a safe, fair, and inclusive workplace and banking system.”
Moving Forward: We’re All In This Together
After the trauma of the pandemic and the fallout from it, the saying “we’re all in this together” certainly has a multitude of meanings. Moving forward, this mantra should be used to help bring communities together as one human race. Brands can get involved with local organizations that support these morals, donate to causes, and provide members, customers, and employees with information on how they can make a difference. It is imperative that brands adapt these Diversity & Inclusion guidelines within their organizations, marketing strategies, and website communications, in order to help everyone, especially those in underserved communities. Not only will you be contributing to a global initiative of change, but you will also set your brand up for success by catering to the needs of all members of your organization.
Please note that ZAG Interactive is not a Diversity & Inclusion expert and the information presented above is based on research about current best practices. We continue to learn and grow in this area.