The Wake Up Call for Diversity and Inclusion

George Floyd and the resulting Black Lives Matter protests sparked a decided focus on diversity and inclusion as an area where they needed to be clear on their intent and more progressive in supporting diverse communities and media they consume.

A consultancy working specifically in this area noted that their customers woke up and said “we care, but we are scared on how to approach this in the right way, help us do this the right way – internally and externally” recognizing that there is no quick fix, but a move from simply an imperative to a realistic and optimistic approach. Much effort is going into better identifying media sources for African American and other diverse communities. Businesses have had to consider what they stand for and realize how diverse their customers are. This has set off real evaluations of corporate ideals and values. “We can’t say one thing corporately, and show up differently in the marketplace” remarked one marketer when reviewing the steps they had taken since the incident.

At one marketer, the President and the CFO are leading the charge on its commitment to representation and inclusion, so leadership takes the reigns on diversity, making it truly a corporate initiative – internally, with media partners, in its commercials, and in its distribution/outlets. “Doing good is doing good business- purpose and profit are positively related.” The George Floyd incident is shaping a new sense of equity and belonging as corporations and marketing professionals think more critically about how their actions impact their targets, society, and their workforce.

There is a clear view toward addressing underserved communities. One way is to show support. “BLM” may have initially gone on a block list, but that withdraws support from the community and the movement at large. Many have reconsidered and put “BLM” back on the run list but have gotten more specific on blocking within that topic (i.e., ‘BLM looting”). Additionally, marketers and agencies are making clear efforts to be in community-based news because, that too, sends a positive message of support, solidarity, and appreciated patronage. One marketer commented that at the end of the day, corporately, “we want to be on the right side of history”.

The lesson is clear: a lax approach eventually leads to unfortunate consequence.

As we start to normalize falsehoods and supremacist behaviors, it snowballs into anti- Semitism, violence against the Asian communities, anti-vaxxer rhetoric, and voter suppression tactics in Georgia and other states. Where does it end? Where is our Union? Accountability and responsibility must be restored as enduring enterprise values. The good news here is companies and brands are stepping up.