‘Diversity is being asked to the dance. Inclusivity is being asked to dance’. Powerful, right? Being inclusive isn’t just about diversifying your campaign, but actually getting underrepresented groups or people involved as much as possible. This is something not many people are aware of, making it even harder to implement inclusivity into campaigns. Through listening and learning about issues surrounding diversity and inclusivity, you’re far less likely to fall into the trap of accidentally stereotyping or appropriating a certain group of people. The best way to avoid this is to keep empathy, context, and nuance top of mind when you’re brainstorming marketing initiatives for any type of campaign. Thorough research should also be at the heart of your inclusivity strategy, as the more knowledgeable you are on a topic, the less likely you are to slip up. Learning about the struggles marginalised groups face, as well as how they work hard to overcome them, should be the first step of any campaign.
Admittedly, using inclusive language can be hard to get to grips with at first. However, it’s a crucial part of encouraging inclusivity in your campaigns. It’s important to note that inclusive language should be a priority not only for your marketing, but for your job descriptions, website copy, and all other written materials across your company, too! Using inclusive language means your key messaging doesn’t refer to any slang, references or other words that discriminate against certain groups of people. Inclusive language is also more than simply avoiding the use of a few antiquated or offensive terms and phrases. It is about embracing communication that acknowledges the power differentials and dynamics of our society, and the effects that this can have. Ultimately, it’s about showing appreciation for the diversity that everyone brings to the table and creating cultures where people can feel free to be their authentic selves.
This might be a hard pill to swallow, but marketing campaigns don’t always go to plan and, when they don’t, accepting responsibility is key. Sometimes efforts to include inclusivity backfire on brands. You may have used the wrong terminology, been accused of stereotyping, or, most commonly, be accused of hiring somebody from an underrepresented group to simply hit a quota. Of course, it’s best to avoid these things in the first place, but there’s no denying that it happens. The best thing that you can do in these instances is to listen carefully and understand how it affected them, give a genuine apology, and commit to doing better in the future. Saying sorry won’t always eliminate the hurt you’ve caused, so you can’t expect to be forgiven right away. What matters more is that you show a willingness to open the dialogue and learn from your mistakes. At the end of the day, lazy inclusion won’t work – and you’ll get called out before you’ve even begun.
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