The Social Marketing Narrative, The Silo Mentality and The Business Case for Customer Diversity @Deloitte

Deloitte (US) declared, not so long ago, to move past diversity groups. Many diversity champions have had mixed reactions on the powerful reframing and shift by this global professional services firm. It’s their way of saying that diversity is everyone’s issue and that the dominant group is which needs to evolve.

I had a great discussion on this within my network of D&I leaders and there's been a major consensus on one major takeaway:

Its increasingly accepted by leaders that diversity is everyone's issue. However, by eliminating employee resource groups, Deloitte has reframed inclusion as a zero-sum game.  Employee resource groups are like communities and should be used to influence organizational culture, this is crucial if trying to change the behavior of the dominant group. Eliminating them marginalizes the efforts of employees who are motivated to create change. An important resource - Surely their evolution should be supported too?

I believe setting up "inclusion councils" is a great first step towards a more diminished groupthink and countering The Silo Mentality! I'm against tribalism but the "diversity groups" should not be seen as such. When certain sections get marginalized and often not treated equally as others eg. Women, Different - religious beliefs, sexual orientation and identity, Veterans, Indigenous, etc.- these "diversity groups" have given a collective voice to those that needed to be heard. For me having "diversity groups" is not about giving an advantage to certain demographics but giving them a fair starting point! 

Helping communities evolve helps organisations make better economic decisions..

Deloitte also recently published an insightful piece of research that focuses on the questions raised above. The resource groups that Deloitte wants to eliminate are communities of diverse groups and that is why representation and the existence of resource groups both within an organization and outside of it are essential. 

I have cited many similarities on how the issue of representation of many diverse groups internally, within an organization has an impact externally i.e. on the organizations' customers.

Quoting some interesting aspects of the research: Missing out

Deloitte: One in three customers from diverse backgrounds say their needs were often unmet over the past 12 months. 

Deloitte: Further, they were three times more likely to avoid an organization and dissuade others from their potential interactions, because of an organization’s negative reputation on diversity.

The report further states:

Deloitte: In an age of social media where supporters and detractors can make or break any sales campaign, it is perhaps truer now than ever, that customers are using their individual purchasing power to endorse organizations which fit with their personal moral codes and who actively support causes that are important to them.

Deloitte: The research contained in this report shows that organizations that cater for their diverse customers are rewarded through stalwart supporters who return for repeat business and actively campaign within their communities on behalf of that organizations, on the flipside; businesses that don’t, are missing out.

The question is How do organizations ensure not to ignore diverse customers?

The answer lies in joining the wave of Social Marketing. Commercial Marketing has taken precedence in the capitalist economies of the world for very long.

And, that is not the case anymore.

Organisations are increasingly reverberating the dominant customer sentiment.

There is obviously a strong business case for organisations that create a lasting change and make an impact on their customer's lives - end up making loyalist amongst those customers, who repeatedly invest in the orgaisations' products or services.

There are many issues that organizations are championing and in a way echoing customers sentiments. We are seeing forms of social marketing that are changing perceptions of :

Beauty: Everything has beauty but not everyone can see it!  
Brand: Joy, Body Lotion (The advert is in Hindi)

Gender Equality: P&G

Generational Diversity: Adidas, However, the advert didn't get much airtime. 

Look at the most engaging brands in any country and you will notice there's a common thread:

  • The brands that are committed to Diversity, Inclusion, CSR and their social impact strategy is the reason they are successful in business.
  • Organizations that are implementing commercial marketing campaigns and tactics, struggle to justify their impact or return on investment - wallowing with absolutely no effect on profits, customer satisfaction, or a positive brand image.
  • Engaged brands recognize the rise of digital platforms quickly responding with empathy, be it a praise or a complaint —as well as a voice for sharing their opinions about the brand. And brands that echo the customer's sentiment deliver a better and more personalized experience ensuring a trusted connection with their customers.

- Amit Anand