How to Apply the Six Principles of Inclusive Marketing to Your Company Culture and Onboarding Processes
Inclusive marketing is often defined in the industry as the process of creating content that reflects diverse communities. When inclusive marketing efforts fall flat in creative promotions, the results are evident to our target audiences, and we must react as brands if we haven’t been proactive in becoming aware of and utilizing the six principles of inclusive marketing.
Equally, when inclusive marketing efforts fall flat in culture and recruitment efforts, employers must react. How? From a human resources (HR) and culture standpoint, it’s just as important that inclusive marketing principles are applied in your recruitment efforts, day-to-day management, leadership techniques, programming, and beyond.
When creative and managerial efforts don’t reflect or apply to the real world that includes diverse communities, company cultures suffer. Individuals, teams, and growth suffers. As we consider the principles of inclusive marketing, we must take into account how we are applying them to our culture and onboarding efforts to create more inclusive work environments.
Salesforce defines the six principles of inclusive marketing as:
- Start with tone
- Be intentional with language
- Ensure Representation
- Consider context
- Avoid appropriation
Consider how we can apply the principles of inclusive marketing not only to our advertising and marketing efforts, but culture, recruitment, and onboarding processes.
Start with tone
When we think about the tone of our voices in marketing, we consider how our messaging is portrayed. Are we sending the right message with the right intention? Is anything about it potentially offensive and does it exclude any communities?
In the workplace, we can think about our tones similarly. How we speak to our staff and team members matters. Do we speak to them all the same? Do we apply calm during a time of difficulty? Does our phrasing (company-wide emails, job postings, team meeting agendas, etc.) suit and speak to all individuals equally? Are we speaking to everyone the same and treating them with respect?
How we answer these questions will help to shape and, possibly, reconstruct our approaches with tone in the workplace.
Be intentional with language
Especially if you are a manager or leader in your place of work, you should always be conscious of your language and its intentions. Language encompasses the words, phrases, symbols, or metaphors we use to describe something. Language holds a lot of power in all aspects of life.
So, as marketers, while we may think of these words and how they apply to our text-based email nurture campaigns, social media posts, etc., in our work cultures, we may consider how our language causes harm or promotes overall wellness.
Like in marketing, in the workplace, we must be careful and considerate about each word, symbol, or phrase we use to communicate with our employees. Salesforce reminds us that, “it’s not just what the words say, but how and where they are placed.”
Lorraine Twohill, SVP of Global Marketing at Google, says, “Diversity in advertising is a bigger challenge than any one company alone can solve.”
Twohill makes a valid point, reflecting on research that shows less than 6% of people in advertising in 2019 are black. This figure has been on a slow decline since 2010. And, as Twohill follows, there is no shortcut to creating more diverse work cultures. Talent pools are often limited due to a variety of factors.
However, to ensure representation, recruiters and leadership must keep their heads’ up and eyes wide open in the search for new talent. People with diverse backgrounds provide an invaluable perspective that people of like-backgrounds can’t equate to.
Ideally, like in marketing when our content graphics and images should represent diverse populations, we should be able to sit in meetings or our offices and see the same reflected.
Context refers to circumstances that inform an event or piece of content in marketing. In the workplace, context may come up in meetings, between conversations with co-workers, over the phone, via video messaging, etc.
There’s no denying that current and historical events are a focal point of conversation between team members. To ensure that all viewpoints are heard equally, and no one feels afraid or ashamed to speak up, you may include “Get to Know You” diversity sessions that introduce employees of varying backgrounds to new cultures, communities, identities, and more. This should help them become enlightened, aware, and open-minded about listening to others’ stories and respecting their separate viewpoints day-to-day.
This sort of workshopping could become apart of your onboarding processes, or you could host sessions throughout the year to keep your team members on the pulse of inclusivity, living it wholly professionally and personally.
In marketing, appropriation means taking pieces of a minority culture without knowing or honoring the meaning behind it. The line is sometimes blurry between cultural appropriation and appreciation.
A number of celebrities throughout recent years have been accused of cultural appropriation, from Beyonce and Coldplay appropriating India’s Holi Festival, to Katy Perry appropriating geisha culture in a 2013 American Music Awards performance, to Selma Blair in 2019 wearing a head wrap and being accused of appropriating Indian culture. It is sadly and undoubtedly very present in modern media, and yet so avoidable. No matter your celebrity, it is imperative we all avoid appropriation as to create more peaceful and equal cultures worldwide.
Like in marketing, to avoid falling into appropriation, as leaders or managers in the workplace, we can prevent cultural appropriation by practicing respectfulness and mindfulness, seeing value in and honoring diversity. If ever in places of confusion, we may seek guidance on different cultures to become more aware and embrace them.
Share information about diverse cultures, and keep the conversations alive and positive about them as you practice this principle in the workplace.
Salesforce reminds us that counter-stereotyping means going against a standardized image that represents an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or critical judgment. Throughout our history, stereotyping has played a prevalent role, but when we speak up as managers and leaders in the workplace to counter-stereotype, we can reshape and reconstruct our communities to become more equal, accepting, and inclusive.
Marketers have the power to change cultures, and it often starts with the messages they inherit from authority. Managers and leaders should take these inclusive marketing principles seriously. Application is necessary to retain and capture diverse talent today. Growing together in a blend of backgrounds helps redefine today’s standards for diversity. It makes it essential.
Ignorance of inclusivity isn’t just bad taste — it’s bad business sense.
- “6 Principles of Inclusive Marketing: Introducing Our New Equality Trailhead Module.” Salesforce Blog, www.salesforce.com/blog/2019/02/inclusive-marketing-equality-trailhead.html.
- “Selma Blair Hits Back at Accusations of Cultural Appropriation After Posting Headwrap Picture.” PEOPLE.com, people.com/movies/selma-blair-cultural-appropriation-accusations-head-wrap/.
- Twohill, Lorraine. “4 Things We Learned about Inclusive Marketing — Think with Google.” Google, Google, www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/inclusive-marketing/.
- Welk, Brian. “15 Celebrities Who Have Been Accused of ‘Cultural Appropriation,’ From Katy Perry to Zac Efron (Photos).” TheWrap, TheWrap, 10 July 2018, www.thewrap.com/celebrities-who-have-been-accused-of-cultural-appropriation-photos/.