Diversity and Inclusion (or D&I as it commonly abbreviated to) is a big topic right now. It seems to be covered more and more in the recruitment space and rightly so, it’s a worthy subject. In a perfect world, we shouldn’t need to talk about D&I since we would all be aware enough to ensure every aspect of our activity – marketing, recruitment and beyond – would be inclusive. However, it is too easy to be exclusive (and not in a good way) without realising it.
Recently we attended the #TruInclusion event and RecFest 2019 where D&I was a hot topic for recruiters. It covered how simple aspects of a recruitment journey can exclude certain demographics or sectors of society.
We could deep dive into a particular D&I topic, but the intention of this blog is to plant a seed and get you thinking about how your recruitment marketing approach is (or isn’t) inclusive.
FIRSTLY, HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE?
As Marketers, we often talk about creating personas or avatars of our ideal client, or in recruitment terms our ideal candidate.
The typical starting place for this is to think gender, age, location, the type of job or level of education… but in today’s inclusive world, the generalisations of what is ideal isn’t that simple.
We need to ask ourselves, do those factors really matter? So what if the candidate is male or female? Why does it make a difference if they can drive or have mobility issues? What you’re looking for is for them to be passionate about what you’re offering. To find the right candidates, you need to dig deeper and really understand the interests and behaviours and focus on those.
BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
At Green Umbrella Marketing, I would describe our most general client persona as follows:
- Someone who has responsibility for implementing a day-to-day digital marketing strategy but lacks the time, the courage or the knowledge to do this without external assistance.
- They’re probably Googling how-to’s around social media usage and strategies.
- They’re likely working for an independent business, with a high probability that they are working in a flexible role. Alternatively, they are the business owner and running a lifestyle business.
- They aspire to grow and possibly looking to expand the business they are involved in.
- Their gender, age, education, background, sexuality, nationality or religion is irrelevant. However, there are several references that we can use to create content that stirs emotion, creates affinity and to put it simply would resonate with our target audience.
DIVERSITY TURN-OFFS AND GETTING IT WRONG
Most of us are becoming aware and hopefully making a conscious effort to be non-discriminatory. However, I’m afraid to tell you this; we are all human! Which means you may well have been confronted with a situation where you’ve become very aware of your unconscious bias.
First of all, well done for noticing. Unconscious biases are judgements we make and assumptions we jump to because our brain is geared that way – no doubt influenced by the media and our upbringing. Noticing that you might be judging someone differently because they have obvious tattoos or dyed hair is a good catch.
The truth is though, while you’re perhaps overthinking which pronouns to use for someone who is transgender or non-binary, you’re not really paying attention to them and their capabilities. Due to lack of knowledge or an overt need to be politically correct, you might unintentionally be giving out the wrong messages.
When it comes to your marketing messages, however, you have more time to stop and think. You have the time to consider what messages you’re putting out there and how those messages might be received.
Some typical mistakes might include images that aren’t representative of all areas of society. At #TruInclusion someone described a company they consulted with as “straight, stale, male and pale” – a reflection of their leaning towards white, middle-class men in their marketing reflected this. The images possibly resonated with some areas of the population but for those not represented the subconscious message is ‘this isn’t for me’.
The same goes for the language you use. Feedback from candidates who have mobility problems, use wheelchairs or perhaps those who are diagnosed with Autism say words like dynamic, mobile, energetic are all turn-offs for them in job adverts.
You’ll notice some consumer brands are adapting their approach to be more inclusive – think the Maltesers adverts featuring various disabled actors or Boots and Sainsbury’s featuring a curvier woman in the summer and beach-ready campaigns.
Even some big-budget companies still manage to get it wrong. Just this year we have seen stories of some of the biggest fashion houses in the world getting it wrong and creating ‘blackface’ designs that have been described as racist. In a runway show dedicated to the ‘Youth of today’, Burberry featured a model who appeared to have a noose around her neck. Suffice to say there was a backlash for both brands.
IF THE BIG BRANDS ARE GETTING D&I WRONG – HOW CAN WE AVOID IT?
There is no fail-safe answer to this, and yes, what some people may find offensive or of an exclusive nature, others might not bat an eyelid at.
But we need to stay aware! If Inclusivity becomes second nature to us – I hope it would naturally run through the life force of our businesses too. We need to ensure that we are not only considering Diversity and Inclusion in Marketing but also in all aspects of the business – and we need to look at our businesses from the outside in so that we can truly assess how inclusive we are.
This guest blog is written by social media marketing specialists, Green Umbrella. To find out how Green Umbrella can help your business click here