Marketing teams must represent and engage with a diverse society

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We live in a diverse society surrounded by people with unique backgrounds, preferences and values. Therefore, the most effective organisations are those who can understand consumers’ various needs and align their services and values accordingly – communicating the best opportunities, with the right message, to the right people, at the right times.

To achieve this, it is essential that there are people within an organisation who are able to identify with their customers, whether that is through their characteristics, experiences or ability to connect. It is critical for any successful organisation to have staff, and more specifically data and marketing practitioners, that are both representative of and able to communicate with diverse audiences.

Society has thrived over recent decades from increased gender parity and representation of ethnic minorities, LGBT+ and disabled professionals in the workplace. Numerous studies have found that diverse teams outperform others and also offer multiple benefits to businesses.

The DMA’s own community has benefitted enormously from our drive for greater diversity and inclusion (D&I) across our numerous councils and committees, DMA Awards Judging panels, and staff. To this end, diversity and inclusion underpin all of the DMA’s work, and are essential to the DMA’s drive to attract the most gifted minds and fresh thinkers into our industry – D&I are core tenets of intelligent marketing.

So, if there are so many benefits to D&I why is the data and marketing industry still falling short?

Marketers feel unrepresented

In late 2020, the DMA and Culture Heroes conducted an industrywide survey aimed at understanding how to develop and implement strategies to encourage more inclusive work environments and, ultimately, improve both retention and progression of talent within organisations.

39% of the respondents agreed that their companies are open and inclusive, committed to diversity and inclusion at all levels and try to include people from different background and experiences. However, when it comes to transforming this approach into real actions, respondents were more hesitant about the inclusivity of their organisations. Indeed, only one in four thought that their company offered equal development opportunities and, worse still, less than one in 10 felt there is a wide range of representation in their leadership team.

If an organisation lacks diversity at a senior level, and is unable to treat staff equally, how are they able to treat their customers fairly and truly understand their needs?

In order to create effective and meaningful marketing campaigns, it is critical that the data and marketing industry is representative of and able to communicate with the diverse customer base it is speaking to.

Driving change across the industry

We must create environments and cultures of excellence that put people first: where business leaders can grow, data and marketing teams can evolve, organisations diversify, and customer data insights become increasingly influential.

The DMA runs a number of initiatives to help create more opportunities for a diverse society. DMA Talent’s Neurodiversity Initiative has offered guidance to hundreds of organisations, large and small, since 2018 – helping them to support a diverse workforce and improve the employment prospects for people with neurodevelopmental conditions. The DMA is also a Founding Partner of Race Equality Matters (REM), an alliance that will turn declarations of commitment and support from organisations into meaningful change in racial equality both in the workforce and in society.

And now, for the first time via the Institute of Data & Marketing (IDM), the DMA’s learning arm, the DMA will offer formal training to help our industry better understand what inclusive marketing is and how to incorporate inclusivity into marketing campaigns in a responsible, effective and authentic way.

In partnership with Upskill Digital, who provide equity-focused learning that empower employees with the tools and techniques to progress through the organisation and drive better representation across all levels, we offer our Inclusive Marketing workshop. This session is aimed at marketing teams and individual practitioners, highlighting how marketing can drive change when it comes to reaching diverse audiences and ultimately, providing practical frameworks and tools to ensure that no one is excluded from marketing strategies.

With greater reach than ever before, it is important that organisations recognise the reasonable adjustments they can make to ensure inclusivity, while reducing risk or harm to potentially vulnerable customers. 53% of the UK population is estimated to be in a vulnerable position at any one time.

Jacqui Workman (Owner & MD at KMB) and Elaine Lee (MD at ReynoldsBusbyLee), our Co-Chairs of the DMA’s Vulnerable Consumer Working Group, have been championing the cause for vulnerable consumers for many years. Following the creation of the DMA Multichannel Guidance for Consumers in Vulnerable Circumstances, which helps businesses to provide more supportive experiences, we look to bring these best practices to life in a one day Masterclass: How to recognise vulnerable customers and make reasonable adjustments.

Time to make meaningful changes

Consumer habits have rapidly evolved over the past 18 months, competition for their attention is fierce, and there is a greater desire to interact digitally and remotely. Therefore, customer trust and engagement have never been so important to business survival.

The data and marketing function has arguably the most impact on these variables, as it is central to an organisation’s ability to get in front of consumers – promoting both their services and values.

Marketing teams must represent and engage with a diverse society in order for businesses to truly put customers at the heart of everything they do. Through the DMA’s diversity initiatives and new D&I course curriculum delivered by the IDM, we are helping businesses, marketing teams and individuals to identify and acknowledge inclusivity issues that can be embedded throughout organisations and even within marketing campaigns.

Diverse and inclusive organisations are often more successful ones, and they also inspire more commitment and loyalty from employees. There has never been a better time to make meaningful changes within organisations to support the part that matters most – people.

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