Deciphering the Why of Diversity Marketing & Branding, Diversity of Thought & Audi's, Yves Saint Laurent's and Apple's Denise Young Smith's Diversity Faux Pas

Credit: TLNT.com

Being in the business of employer branding allows you plenty of room to gain some useful insights. While on a research project for a client that makes products for the construction and related industries, primarily to the professional end-user, I stumbled upon how a brands' strong diversity and inclusion roots help in gaining new diverse customers. 

It may sound odd but this organization has recently started blowing its own trumpet on its many achievements in building an inclusive and engaged workforce, and rightly so! I want to help them blow that trumpet.

A highly diverse workforce that has a representation of different demographics - acts as a beacon and when potential customers see that those specific demographics constitute a happy, engaged organization - they are more likely to be attracted to those signals, convert and become a customer.

Now, there are many people who would want to see proof before assuming my statement's authenticity as above. Fact is that all this is very well documented, researched and statistically proven.

Consider why diversity is important. 

You put five people, supposedly - decision makers in a room with several common traits - they look alike, talk the same language, think alike in most cases, and, unanimously deliver the same outcomes.

And, then you put five people from different demographics - Ageracegendermarital statuseducation etc. they don't think alike but they think differently together, and hell no, they don't look alike either. They bring in the diversity of thought in a profound way!

When brands think about whom they're marketing to, who is their target customer - they typically have very distinct demographics in mind.

Branding can be quite tricky like marketing, even once brands have worked out their key target customer, they miss the mark in requiring to consider the diversity of that group...and, that becomes the biggest single most factor determining a business' success in assessing it's ability to market to a wide range of demographics and, keeping in mind that the messaging also needs to be right on point lest it ruffles the feathers of diverse sensibilities.

Bersin by Deloitte states on “Diversity of thought” is the result of each person's unique background, experiences, and perspectives. Considered to be an “invisible” diversity dimension, diversity of thought is a characteristic that each person brings to the work environment.

Business Insider believes "Diversity of Thought" to be the future of the workplace.


Credit:LinkedIn
When I say "Diversity" I mean diversity of thought. And, "Diversity of Thought" doesn't come with amplifying similarities. It comes with a perspective of dissimilarities.

Now consider what I have reiterated above to the statement with these:


From the first ever vice-president of diversity for Apple - Denise Young Smith comes a dramatic statement: That a room full of “white, blue-eyed, blonde men” can be as diverse as a team which includes women and people of colour. Obviously, she was citing the "diversity of thought" here, but sadly she missed the point. She had to apologise! Its baffling she made it this far considering her explaination clearly is not right and befitting someone who heads an important department, heading an organisation that promoted her from her previous Head of Human Resources role to improve Apple's diversity figures and make Apple's overall business aspects, hiring practices among other things, more open and conscious of diversity and inclusion. Putting white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room isn't the issue. The issue is calling that assemble "diverse". The detail lies in the messaging and true inclusion is a result of that messaging where the least dominant individual feels they too, have a voice!
An Audi ad likening women to used cars in China.
Yves Saint Laurent depicting women desirable if they wear a fur coat with fishnet tights and legs wide open. 
I have also been quite vocal about Nivea's "White is Purity" and Dove's (Unilever's) recent advert - I have dedicated a full blog post on that by the way!
Would women who are likely to constitute some portion of the consumer segment continues to buy from these brands? Does this messaging convey that Audi and Yves Saint Laurent doesn't have women present when they put these ideas on the drawing board?

Then how do a group of white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room bring in Diversity of Thought?

A diverse range of employees bring different challenges and advantages in 
terms of ideas, creativities, styles, and innovations in the workplace. Organisations, in general, need more diversity because if they don't - they will continue to stereotype, continue to faux pas and will lose out on not just an existing customer base but potentially many more diverse groups that will fail to connect with these brands as opposed to organisations that do it right because they recognize diversity as a strategy to outperform competitors but most importantly, helping the organization helps its employees to realize that it takes a wide variety of people to become the best and that they need to have the ability to be able to rely on everyone on their team, no matter how different another person may be. 

And, here's some data you can digest:

With regards to proof: The companies that perform best financially have the greatest numbers of women in a leadership role, according to the worldwide survey, conducted by Pittsburgh-based human resources consulting firm DDI together with nonprofit business research group The Conference Board in the research: Leaders in Transition: Progressing Along a Precarious Path.. The likes of Entrepreneur Media and McKinsey & Company's (Why Diversity Matters) point out that Diverse teams outperform homogenous teams in every metric that matters in Business! Racially and Ethically Diverse Companies are 35 percent more likely to outperform industry norms and gender-diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to outperform. A team member who shares a client's ethnicity is 150 percent more likely to understand that client. 

- Amit Anand

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