What the First Lady of the United States Melania Trump, World Cup Swedish player Jimmy Durmaz, BBC, Starbucks, Netflix, and Amazon teach us about Inclusive Communications!

The image above at the beginning of the post is an adaption of Coca-Cola's Zero Racism stance by Brad Ross, Director - Global Football Marketing at The Coca-Cola Company that he shared on LinkedIn.

You would notice how fervently any racial slur, racial profiling, and racially-charged invective is dealt with in the modern world. So much so I don't need to write a thesis on this subject. You read about a familiar kind of inclusion-driven calling cards from organizations that have become highly sensitized to many gaping disparities and biases that plague organizations around the world. 

As a coach in inclusive and intercultural communications, I love citing examples that have become commonplace and almost a norm - it is heartening to see that many such disparities are being challenged at every opportunity, one of the tenets of effective diversity strategy,  as some great brands and companies take a stand for something more than just profits or something gainful than their bottom line! Leading to an increased brand identity and continuous growth of the brand power rewarded with unwavering consumer loyalty!

Not so long ago, Amazon responded almost immediately pulling a third-party seller's products that featured ’Slavery Gets S*** doneafter outraged shoppers on its platform reported this offensive and insensitive slogan.

Image: Zero Hedge

A recent case is the racial-profiling at a Starbucks cafe in Philadelphia and how the company dealt with it was nothing short of extraordinary by closing their stores across the US for a day for racial bias training, sensitivity and reconciliation post-incident.

Next is Netflix firing the company's chief communications officer after he “showed unacceptably low racial awareness" i.e. His Use of The N-Word!

BBC's new diversity hiring plan proposes to increase the proportion of black and ethnic minority staff in band E – to middle and senior-ranking posts – including editors, producers, and presenters is a testament of how important race as a dimension is being seen by global corporates. 

One very compelling outcome of this action has led to increased levels of Social Mobility wherein the bottom-rung of the organizational pyramid and people with different socio-economic backgrounds climb up the corporate ladder with enhanced career development through Mentoring, Returnship, and Reskilling opportunities that result in growth, sustained economic development and the entire ecosystem/landscape to thrive.

And, perhaps the most recent incident in our memory comes from the World Cup - following Sweden’s game against Germany, one of the Swedish players, Jimmy Durmaz, born to Assyrian parents who had emigrated from Turkey, received an onslaught of racial abuse on his social media channels. And, immediately the entire progressively diverse world community including corporates responded with a supportive stance like #ZeroRacism and 'F*** racism' & #backadurmaz.... His response to the racist flak he received is mature and to the point that garners nothing but respect especially in the wake of anti-immigrant tirade across the globe.

A quote from Swiss coach, Vladimir Petkovic puts the entire Immigration context in perspective:  "We have managed to bring together different cultures, different talents, different ideologies and they help us to play really good football," 

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Cultural diversity is secret to Swiss success, says coach

The image above at the beginning of the post is an adaption of Coca-Cola's Zero Racism stance by Brad Ross, Director - Global Football Marketing at The Coca-Cola Company that he shared on LinkedIn.

Interestingly you, my dear reader would be thinking how does the First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump fit into this equation :)

She does, and that too in a profound way. Although I am not blaming her for any misdeed and neither complimenting her or even a shoutout for something she did that deserves a mention, she offered a great lesson on inclusive communication in addition to spawning a thousand memes. 

Especially how she dealt with a situation that warrants walking-on-eggshells kind of a metaphor because it launched a thousand memes and angry outbursts. It often boils down to the most overlooked bits and in this case, a jacket she wore stoked controversy with the phrase that read: I really don't care, do you? 

Image: NY Daily News

Words have immense power and the power of words told in an incompetent manner, even more so. We may never know her true intention but the callous message she conveyed during a visit to the detention facilities of the immigrant children separated from their parents as a result of the "zero tolerance" immigration directive had a persuasive but less than impressive effect. It was not just lacking in taste but also appeared to be just an empty rhetoric in the midst of her media-driven hyperbole and concern for those children.

Empowered leaders, brands, and organizations empower their citizens, employees, and customers by not generalizing, by valuing differences.. by going beyond the demographics of categorization and generalization. Those that are still reveling in their privileged ignorance despite the visible thrust and a standout theme of racial integration and bringing in racial diversity are coerced to review their inclusive touch-points in the wake of their segregation agendas. This is a classic conundrum faced by many who have predominantly been late adopters and are still eschewing large-scale diversification of thought in their products and services portfolio or their rigid mindsets in the weight of its implication.

People, brands, and organizations with power and influence hold a mirror up to society and their primary obligation is not indulging in mere lip service to diversity, inclusion or equality. They need to be authentic inside and out. That is why Inclusive communication is not only an essential ingredient for a perfect recipe (apologies if the analogy sucks) but also is the biggest single most factor determining a business' success in assessing it's ability to sell to a wide range of demographics and markets.

-Amit Anand