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The benefits of a diverse and inclusive brand are many, for consumers and companies alike. However, this representation doesn’t happen accidentally. Rather, organizations must take specific action to help lift up underrepresented groups, such as women, people of color and people with disabilities.
Businesses in the culture space are uniquely positioned to use their influence to amplify the voices of those underrepresented groups. Below, the members of Rolling Stone Culture Council share 10 specific ways culture leaders can promote inclusivity and diversity in their branding.
Start With Your Own Perspective
It all starts with me and what I can control. The most important thing is my frame and perspective. If I “preset” my frame toward positivity, when the inevitable communication gap occurs (generally caused by ignorance of another’s background), I focus on “clarifying” questions and discovery versus judgment and emotional conclusions. – Charles Wu, Nexem
Work With the Right Partners
Representation also matters when it comes to organizational and brand partners. Work to match your existing partnerships by collaborating with equivalent groups representing underserved populations. At BarBend, we’re the Official Media Partner of USA Weightlifting, and we’re also an Official Media Provider for World Para Powerlifting, which represents disabled athletes at the Paralympic level. – David Tao, BarBend
Put Underrepresented People in Leadership Positions
Put people of color, women and other underrepresented minorities in positions of power where they are part of the conversation and decision-making process. Ask questions, listen and execute. A diverse business, in terms of skills and people, is a robust business. Consumers recognize and increasingly look for these qualities, driving loyalty and return business. – Olivier Caillabet, Toki Underground
Hire a Diverse Staff
It all starts with hiring a diverse staff that properly represents the community and culture you wish to represent! Surrounding yourself with a diverse staff will challenge the company to get rid of unconscious bias and make sure that all customers can feel represented. Creating an environment that is inclusive and safe for all people should be the core focus for everyone in the culture space. – Kenneth Churchill, West Coast Cannabis Club
Listen and Seek to Understand
It really starts with listening and understanding the group you are looking to help. Don’t assume you have the answers. Also, you can’t be a company in the culture space unless your workforce is reflective of that culture, so ensure that your company is significantly made up of the different types of people your company currently serves and hopes to serve. – Matt Tuffuor, Toasted Life
Use Your Platform to Give People a Voice
If you have a platform in the culture space, it is essential to use it to amplify and give voice to groups who have been underrepresented in the past. It not only demonstrates that your business is relevant and committed to driving a cultural conversation, but it also has a positive impact on your internal culture with your team. Most importantly, it’s the right thing to do! – Michael Klein, Miraculo Inc.
Make Your Marketing Reflect Your Inclusive Values
A business can make sure their workplace is inclusive and make sure their marketing reflects those inclusive values. Having those values will trickle down to the consumer and give them confidence that you are inclusive to all as a business. – Vanessa Gabriel, Drop Delivery
Acknowledge the Differences in Opportunities
It starts with acknowledging that not everyone has the same opportunities. While many brands project inspirational achievements through their products or services, be realistic and honest about what is attainable. Relating to the realities underrepresented groups face is the way to connect and create relatable shared experiences. It’s not just including them in casting; it’s showing their struggles. – Matt Blackburn, ORDER
Create Genuine Connections With Diverse Consumer Groups
Making genuine connections with people in those underrepresented consumer groups is a great first step. Those connections will help change and shape your perceptions and understanding in ways that allow you to create empathy-driven solutions for both your business and the underrepresented groups and how you market to those groups so that they can see themselves in your brand and its offerings. – Buck Wimberly, ULAH, LLC / ULAH Interiors + Design, LLC
Work on Your Own Personal Ways of ‘Being’
Businesses are composed of “the individual,” and best practices are an extension of who we all are personally. Let’s start with changing our own personal ways of being in the world. Let’s work on and overcome our “-isms” every day, such that lifting up the underrepresented will be more like a logical extension of who we are and who we want to be everywhere in the world. – Stephanie Dillon, Stephanie Dillon Art