Embrace diversity to stay relevant

There are some very good reasons why every marketer should ensure that their communications are inclusive and embrace the modern and diverse world of which each one of us is part.

I can only authentically speak as a white gay man, so I’ll start with the importance of LGBT+ representation in your marketing communications. And, to be clear, I don’t mean creating communications aimed at the LGBT+ community; I mean including LGBT+ representation in your everyday mainstream communications.

Here’s one big reason why: the majority of 18-25 year olds no longer identify as 100% straight.

Just let that sink in for a moment: over half of your younger consumers (56% according to the YouGov survey) no longer identify in old fashioned gay/straight terms.

If you consider that to be a Millennial quirk, it’s not. In the over-60 age bracket, 11% say the same. And both those percentages have increased significantly over the past three years.

Attitudes to gender and sexual orientation are changing fast. If you want your brand (or your client’s brand) to remain relevant it’s important you change the way you present people too.

Please don’t respond to that news with tokenism; dropping an Is she? Isn’t she? vignette into your next ad. Presenting positive and authentic LGBT+ images is vital because it creates powerful role models, and those role models have been absent from marketing communications for too long.

I knew from an early age I was different, but without any images or personalities to aspire to, I was painfully lost and alone.

Still, today about a third of us haven’t come out at work. Even when we do manage to come out at school, college or university, more than 60% of us go straight back into the closet when we get our first job.

So, you’ll understand why I believe that to create inclusive communications you must have an inclusive team. And that team will operate at its best when every single member is able to be their authentic selves. Numerous studies have proven that inclusive – heterogenous – teams get to more innovative solutions, more creative solutions, and better solutions, faster.

You can do a lot of things right now to be part of the change. You can re-think the way you recruit and retain people. I had an amazing experience recently when I joined a DMA Talent neurodiversity workshop. Ostensibly about how to make the necessary workplace adjustments to provide a more welcoming atmosphere for colleagues with Asperger’s, it taught me so much more about the outmoded, stereotypical ways we hire in general, and more importantly how to do it better and more inclusively.

Thanks to support from NABS, the LGBT+ network I’m part of provides free role-model workshops too. If you’re LGBT+ or a straight ally, go to the Pride AM website and make a real difference in your workplace.

And if you’d like to ensure your marketing communications are LGBT+ inclusive, PrideAM will also be publishing an updated and expanded Outvertising report soon.

Mark Runacus, Chair DMA (UK) Group, Chair PrideAM, Co-Founder Wax/On.

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