The Business Case Series - Black Twitter & Black Googlers
Image: Atlanta Black Star
An avid reader of my blog asked me an interesting question. He noticed my posts are all about what my clients should do and shouldn't do but how do I make them do anything at all? How do I actually help them?
My assignments often start with discussions first. Knowing my client inside, out is the first step. There is a fair amount of research that goes into it as well. I don't have an off-the-shelf methodology or service. One size fits all sorts of thinking.
A very dear mentor, Candida Marques introduced me to this concept. As I quote her style of work which I emulate:
"I enter into a discussion understanding of what they are trying to accomplish. I ask my questions as conversations develop and real partnership is established in order for successful branding programs to be initiated and continued success to be had.
I walk into it curious so that I can begin the process of understanding and can learn about the potential new client and see if there will be a fit, not only for me but for them. I seek to improve their condition by getting to know them as individuals and their organizations as unique in their purpose so to speak.
My goal is to understand their needs, see where in the process they are, who is initiating the engagement, who is supporting the engagement, who's budget will sustain the engagement, what challenges are they facing that prompted them to want to engage with me, how are they handling these challenges, etc.
Each client is unique. And so each client's fundamental business models are completely different, so their approaches, needs, issues, and situations are guided by the type of businesses they run and the type of industry they are in are different.
When I speak to new clients I inject their unique ways of working and conducting business into the conversation. I look at and bring to the surface my understanding of what makes them unique in comparison to their competition. This type of conversation allows me to get to the core of what they are looking to accomplish. Then and only then, and after understanding where in the process they are, what they want to accomplish, and what do they vision as being the end result can I begin to tailor anything for them."
THE BUSINESS CASE - SERIES 1
I am now citing an example from my research for a client. Their products are extremely popular. The client approached me to help them with a strategy to reach out to the non-white communities, especially Black Minority Ethnic (BAME). I cannot touch upon the confidential aspects of the research, however, my assessment required to understand where is this need stemming from. My client already has a diverse workforce. While this deserves applause as they have made efforts to foster diversity; it must be noted that hiring minorities on the lower rankings of the corporate ladder is only solving a small part of the problem. The issue of representation notwithstanding, I figured that not only diversity within their leadership team was essential but their wide audience could not be serviced without a diverse perspective.
My client had to reflect the diversity of its consumers.
I suggested to them varied ways of why having a more diverse team will eventually lead to more innovative products, happier customers and better financial returns (Thomson Reuters). To maximize the revenue of a product you need diversity amongst the people building it, if not – there will always be a blind spot in the company and a perspective that the company is unaware of.
My discussion with this client-centered around some widely talked about challenges. Often internal.
Quoting what, Christopher Sacca, former super angel, venture investor, company advisor, and entrepreneur pointed out in his discussion Greed case for Diversity adding how tech companies that have diverse consumers still lack in having diversity in the highest echelons of power in their leadership. He cited the issue of representation and the missed opportunity while talking about the prevalence of black people on Twitter and the power of Black Twitter despite not having a single member of this community making to its board, adding :
"Diverse perspectives bring us into markets we didn’t know existed”
It will be unfair to categorize all companies having to face this challenge. Some companies are making great strides. companies such as Google have a “Black GooglersNetwork/Communities, Black Allies, etc. and these have been a strong force within such organizations to bring about a positive impact in not only giving voice to the least represented demographic but also giving them a fair starting point based on the tenets of providing both, equity and equality in equal measures!
One of the ways to engage with a community is through events. Considering this, my first suggestion was to prepare them for an event with the BAME Leaders that will be hugely beneficial to my client as it would reflect the brand's intention to embed diversity and inclusion into their core values ensuring that every decision taken within the organization is well informed and guided. The timing of such events is even more important especially as I suggested it will have the best impact and case of genuinity if the event is held during the Black History Month.
Holding a diversity event is evidence in itself that my client is not embarking on a wildly ambitious project but they want BAME Leaders to be a part of the company’s long term future. The company does not just want to hire black people or gain them as customers, but they want them to stay and flourish with them.
Working with BAME leaders is something that must be approached with caution and the event will have to be planned with thoughtfulness and sensitivity. There are often a series of steps and I will mention a few here:
Step 1: Setting the Benchmark
It is important to stress to the BAME leaders that my client is not exploiting black culture purely for financial benefit. This is because many black and individuals feel as if society, big brands, and celebrities cut and commercialize pieces of black culture for white consumption.
Many times, it appears as if black culture is appreciated more than the individuals. Although diversity leads to innovation, creativity and better products and marketing it is important to avoid cultural appropriation.
Step 2: Culture Appropriation and Tackling BAME Stereotypes
Show interest and value of the individuals. Many of the BAME leaders may be skeptical about the seriousness of any initiative when it comes to working with BAME leaders. However, my client can easily put such doubt to rest as there is evidence of how much they value black and African American individuals when you look at their history.
Step 3: Highlight BAME Collaborations through Role Models
Collaborations with community Role Models within the African-American diaspora aiming to highlight Global Diversity with an emphasis on love, passion, and energy. Working closely with these Community Role Models shows a clear intention to create a diverse community as they are at the forefront of the brand. Want to know more, I would be happy to have a chat! Reach me at email@example.com
Wrapping the post with this brilliant piece of writing:
In the book, Reni Eddo-Lodge expands on the concept of white privilege: “When I talk about white privilege, I don’t mean that white people have it easy, that they’ve never struggled, or that they’ve never lived in poverty. But white privilege is that fact that if you’re white, your race will almost certainly positively impact your life’s trajectory. And you probably won’t even notice it” (p.87).