DEI is an abbreviation that stands for "Diversity, Equity, Inclusion," which aims to create a societal environment where differences and unique qualities of individuals are celebrated rather than criticized or silenced. Whether it's differences in gender, race, sexual orientation, abilities, or socio-economic status, DEI acknowledges that all people can play a meaningful role in society.
Today, there is a demand for representing the diverse aspects of humanity in advertising, and it cannot be ignored, especially when working with Tier-1 GEOs where inclusivity and equality are the norm, and discrimination is strongly condemned.
Therefore, if you prioritize the promotion of DEI values, it will undoubtedly pay off in the long run, even if you initially encounter some resistance or misunderstanding from a portion of your audience.
Alignment with DEI Values
Empathy, mindfulness, compassion – these are not quantitative metrics, so it's impossible to perfectly calculate what, how much, and in what quantity needs to be done to align with DEI values at a specific level. Therefore, DEI in marketing boils down to one simple yet simultaneously complex idea: "You have to give it your all."
If you are willing to embark on this journey but don't know how to start, an excellent beginning would be to acquire new knowledge and increase your level of awareness. This, at the very least, will enhance the quality of your content and help you build stronger and deeper connections with your audience who supports DEI values. Let's take a closer look at each element of this concept.
"Diversity" refers to the variety of identities and backgrounds represented in a specific space or piece of content. Identities and backgrounds can include:
- Race and ethnic background;
- Gender identity;
- National and regional origin;
- Sexual orientation and relationship status;
- Socioeconomic status;
- Marital status;
- Political ideology;
- Life experience, and more.
You've captured the idea accurately: all people are different, and your task is to convey this diversity and represent as many of these differences as possible.
Equality is a more active concept than diversity. It means providing everyone with equal opportunities and equal access to them. Here, our task is to recognize the existing barriers that may limit access to various opportunities for some members of our society and help to eliminate them.
If we translate this into the context of marketing, equality means considering the accessibility to meet various needs.
Inclusivity goes beyond representation and advocacy and contributes to creating a fair, friendly, respectful, and welcoming environment.
It's not enough to simply include people who visibly differ from each other in your content – it's important to acknowledge, accept, and respect the identities and backgrounds of these individuals, as well as understand what they can find for themselves in your content. Of course, you don't have to create your content for every user on the planet – just be attentive to your target audience and consider their interests.
Why is this important for marketing
Marketing operates at the unique intersection of reflecting real life and shaping it. Therefore, if you adhere to DEI principles in your marketing efforts, you simultaneously convey your awareness of various segments of the population and actively assert their existence. This is important because it lets your audience know that you see them, hear them, and respond to them.
Perhaps, it's no longer accurate to say that DEI is the philosophy of future marketing. It's already here, and your audience most likely has been waiting for it.
Here's a spoiler for you: your audience wants to see themselves represented in your content and feel that it's created with their preferences in mind. The fact that your target audience consists of various layers of the population is not even up for debate. And you should make an effort not to alienate them with content that ignores their differences.
How to make your content more inclusive
As we've mentioned, DEI doesn't have a specific metric to gauge how well you're promoting equality, diversity, and inclusivity values, aside from your audience's feedback in the long run. However, you can consider the following ideas to shape your marketing strategy in line with DEI values.
Examine the question
It might be beneficial for you to delve deeper into the topic of DEI in the context of marketing or overall to gain an understanding of the current discourse. For instance, you're already reading this material – which is a good start!
As the discussion around DEI in marketing evolves, the concept itself is also evolving. Increasingly, the letter "B" is added to the DEI acronym, representing "Belonging" – the sense that your audience should feel toward your brand. It's a challenging goal, but if your target audience feels that your content is genuinely inclusive, you can achieve it.
You need to genuinely want to
- Make a deliberate effort to change your mindset.
- Be a reliable ally to your audience.
- Be open to new information challenging your existing beliefs.Feeling discomfort is normal.
- Accept feedback – it's part of the learning and growth process. This way, you'll cultivate sensitivity to how your content impacts others.
- Be prepared that you won't get everything right every time. Failures await you – and that's normal.
Acknowledge your biases and knowledge gaps
A bit of self-analysis and reflection won't hurt anyone. Try to identify subtle biases that you may carry within yourself. You may not be aware of them, but they hinder your content from being inclusive. This applies on both macro and micro levels: when positioning a brand and when creating an advertising slogan for a new product.
The internet is abundant with resources detailing best practices for creating accessible (i.e., fair and inclusive) design. Here are a few examples of what you can do:
- Include people of different skin colors, people with disabilities, people of different ages, and so on in images.
- Provide captions or transcripts for audio and video content.
- Use high-contrast colors and clear images for on-screen data visualization.
- Give detailed image descriptions using alt-text.
- Avoid videos and animations with excessive motion or flashing imagery.
Of course, this is far from an exhaustive list, and there are many nuances for each specific audience segment. Let's consider that we've cast a line for the next material.
Not to mention that inclusivity is a global trend, the DEI concept is genuinely what can help your brand or product capture the hearts of a highly diverse audience if you learn to understand them and provide the support and understanding they (and everyone, really) need.