Why inclusive marketing matters
I'm super excited because this week I'm passing the mic over to a woman whose work I've admired for some time now.
Her name is Alexandra Legend Siegel, or Ally. She is a thought leadership writer at Salesforce, the global president of the company's black employee network, and an artist-poet in her spare time.
I met Ally a few years ago, right around the time she first started working at Salesforce. After only a year in her marketing role, she was able to merge her passion for storytelling, research, and diversity issues to create a completely new role in the company — which she shares more about below.
I was impressed then, and I've remained impressed as I've followed her journey. That's why I'm honored to have her share a bit of her experience in today's issue of the newsletter as Above the Bottom Line's first-ever guest contributor.
And since we're talking all about inclusive marketing today, Lora has also curated a set of articles, both current and throwback, with interesting news and insights on the topic.
We hope you enjoy. As always, once you're done, hit reply and share your thoughts. I personally respond to all your emails!
Alexandra Legend Siegel (@AllyLegend) is the Equality Narrative and Content Manager at Salesforce. She was recently named Business Insiders 30 and Under Rising Stars in Tech for creating the first-ever Equality marketing program and for her approach to diversity and inclusion. In her role she works to build a movement around Equality in business through research, creative content, and inclusive storytelling.
When I started my career in tech several years ago, I noticed that the industry — like many others — was struggling with diversity, particularly around representation of underrepresented groups like women and minorities. With my background in journalism and marketing, I noticed an opportunity to leverage my experiences and skills to help empower others with the language and knowledge to start having brave conversations about these issues while sparking positive change.
That’s how I came about creating my own job at one of the fastest growing software companies, Salesforce, as the Equality Narrative and Content lead. In my role I spend my time thinking about how to use storytelling, research, and business platforms to help improve our workplaces, communities, and world while empowering others to do the same.
Salesforce is a unique company in that it was founded on the idea, as our co-CEO and founder Marc Benioff says, “that the business of business is to improve the state of the world.” A few years ago we established our Office of Equality to focus on these issues — led by our Chief Equality Officer Tony Prophet who reports directly into our co-CEO (and who now happens to be my boss).
But of course, we are also fallible.
As I saw other brands misstep for marketing and advertising mistakes, I recognized that without empowering our employees with the right language, education, processes, and tools — we could make (and have made) mistakes, too.
That’s when I began to work on what are now our Inclusive Marketing principles and training to help empower others to create marketing that resonates with and reflects all communities.
Here’s a little about our journey . . .
What is Inclusive Marketing and why does it matter?
Inclusive Marketing means creating content that truly reflects society. It’s all about elevating diverse voices and role models, decreasing cultural bias, and leading positive social change through thoughtful and respectful content.
The first important thing to remember is intention vs. impact, or the idea that most of us have positive intent but it is the impact that matters and we are held accountable to.
I’m sure it wouldn’t take long for you to recount any of the many recent examples of brands releasing marketing or designs that may have been created with positive intent, but the impact resulted in tone-deaf, exclusionary, or offensive content.
At the same time, when companies authentically lead with inclusive marketing, the impact is huge.
The world around us is changing.
Nielsen says that “with 43% of the 75 million Millennials in the U.S. identifying as African American, Hispanic, or Asian, if a brand doesn’t have a multicultural strategy, it doesn’t have a growth strategy.”
The same is true for evolving gender roles — the Geena Davis Institute reports that “85% of women say film and advertising need to catch up to the real world when depicting women.”
We are also seeing consumer behavior changing.
Technology has made us more connected than ever before and social media has amplified the voices of consumers who are increasingly passionate about brand integrity and values. Ninety-three percent of consumers believe that businesses have a responsibility to look beyond profit and improve the state of the world (Salesforce Research).
Here’s what we’re doing about it at Salesforce
With this in mind, I began to think about ways we could empower our content creators, event organizers, and designers to spot when something wasn’t quite right before it went out the door and continue to build inclusive marketing that resonates with all of the communities we serve.
After months of workshopping and focus testing, we distilled it into six principles to keep in mind — start with tone, be intentional with language, ensure representation, consider context, avoid appropriation, and counter-stereotype.
Of course, we recognize that these topics are often very personal and subjective and we are not always going to agree. That’s why I believe creating space for brave, authentic dialogue is super important.
There also isn’t any easy checklist that we can give when we are dealing with people and their culture, history, or identities — but what we can do is flex our inclusive muscle, practice seeing the world through these lenses, and be open to honest as well as anonymous feedback.
And for all the content creators, designers, and event curators out there — we have the power to create real, meaningful change. We can shatter stereotypes, change the narratives, elevate new heroes, and inspire the next generation.
Let’s do it together... Check out our free online training if you want to learn more about the 6 Inclusive Marketing principles!
Make An Impact, Your Guide To Inclusive Marketing. This article, which responds to racist backlash against an Old Navy ad depicting an interracial couple with a child, describes what inclusive marketing is, how it makes an impact, and provides 5 ways to incorporate inclusive marketing into your business while managing the backlash you may receive. // FORBES
Verizon Expands Diversity-and-Inclusion Push With New Focus on Retention. Verizon has begun studying employee retention specifically amongst women and people of color working in the advertising and media sectors. The company is not alone in this push for diversity and inclusion. General Mills requires ad agencies to strive for at least 50% female and 20% people of color employees among their creative teams, and AT&T pursued more inclusive marketing in front of the camera and behind it and has noticed more diversity in their agency team. // WSJ
Adidas Offers to Help Eliminate Native American Mascots. In 2015, Adidas started a program that offered to help high schools nationwide redesign and change their mascots and branding if they had Native American mascots, by helping them with cost and the graphic design. The initiative was done in partnership with the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, which (at the time) included leaders from the 567 federally recognized tribes. // ESPN
Addressing the Lack Of Diversity In The Advertising Industry. Shannie Mears is the co-founder of The Elephant Room, a creative company on a mission to make the advertising industry a more representative and inclusive place. In this interview Shannie explains how they are working to implement what the future of advertising looks like and why she feels hopeful about the creative industry. // VIRGIN
What Do Models Look Like? Target, Nordstrom, American Eagle Say They Look Like You. This article provides many examples of inclusive advertising through diverse models for many popular clothing brands. Aerie, the American Eagle lingerie line, has used many different types of models through body type, race, gender, and visible disabilities. Girl Scout Cookies also recently featured a young girl with vitiligo alongside 2 other girls on the Carmel Chocolate Chip cookie box. The 2018 Gerber baby, Lucas Warren, has down syndrome. And Target recently featured a model with a prosthetic leg, Kiara Washington. // USA TODAY
Facebook delivers ads based on race and gender stereotypes, researchers discover. Facebook has received complaints of its ad platform having features that allow advertisers to discriminate against who sees their ads for years, and recently they have announced that they will be making changes to the platform in order to prevent advertisers from unfairly distributing housing and employment ads. However, new research shows that Facebook also has problems with the way the ads are optimized. For example, men are shown more ads than women because women click more, which costs more money to go through Facebook’s advertising platform, and text/images have a strong effect on who will see the ad, even if the bidding strategy and targeting is gender neutral. // CNBC
Brands Once Used Elitism To Market Themselves. Now Inclusion Sells. This article explores how advertising has changed through the years as consumer opinion has changed. In the past, exclusion sold well. Brands cultivated images of privilege through wealth, glamour, and absurd luxury, as well as defined beauty to a standard of thin, white, cisgendered, and non-disabled. However, now inclusivity sells. Be it through simply a wider size range, to a complete campaign, many brands are finding ways to be more inclusive. // VOX
Dove Partners With Getty Images To ‘Shatter’ Beauty Stereotypes In Ads. Dove and Getty Images have partnered to launch #ShowUs, which is a project of creating a stock photo library of women and non-binary individuals, by women and non-binary individuals, to show beauty as it really is, and not conform to traditional beauty stereotypes. They will make this stock photo library public for media and advertising industries to license and use in their campaigns. // MARKETING INTERACTIVE
This week's headlines were curated by ABL's badass intern, Lora.
“From a business perspective, Inclusive Marketing is going to become increasingly important because the backlash to sexist, racist, ableist, classist, homophobic, and trans-phobic material is going to get louder and louder. As it should.”
- Jessica Fish