Why diverse teams create better content
Helping team members thrive and grow is what gets me out of bed in the morning.
That means making sure each one feels welcome, valued and able to be themselves, regardless of ethnicity, age, beliefs, sexual orientation or anything else that makes them unique. We’re making progress with this, but there’s always still so much more to learn and do.
Aside from my own personal motivations, it’s well known that ensuring workplaces are diverse and inclusive has a significant impact on both the bottom line and a firm’s ability to attract talent. And, for marketing and communication teams in particular, I believe diverse teams deliver better content. Here’s why:
Diversity drives innovation
Diversity is about more than the traditionally included categories like race or gender. It’s also about diversity of thought that comes from different backgrounds, cultures and lived experiences.
And it’s this diversity in the broadest sense that brings different voices and ideas to the table. It helps foster greater inclusion and more open conversations. People are more likely to feel they can be their whole selves and offer up different opinions and perspectives. And, because of this, inclusion brings greater innovation and problem solving.
Diversity lends authenticity to your content
Diversity of experience and background also brings authenticity to your campaigns. It brings cultural insights that resonate rather than stereotype.
You’ll never engage your specific audience with overused stock imagery and generalisation – you need to understand cultural nuances. Adobe, owner of one of those stock libraries, recognises the problem itself. A 2019 survey by the company found that two thirds of African Americans and over half of Asian Americans and Latino/Hispanic Americans felt their ethnic identity is often portrayed stereotypically in marketing.
“Advertising has not yet hit the mark when it comes to gender and ethnic representation, which is a major missed opportunity when it comes to personalisation,” Adobe says.
Equally, it’s hard to produce the storytelling content we know performs so well without understanding the lives of the people involved. It’s unrealistic to expect audiences to engage and react if we don’t get what it is we’re asking them to relate to ourselves.
Diversity helps avoid blind spots
We’re increasingly exposed to stories about harassment and discrimination through our news and social feeds. And the pandemic has heightened our sensitivity to social inequalities. Being blind to these issues can be seriously damaging.
The fresh perspectives a diverse team offers helps avoid the chances of ‘group think’. And there are often examples of that – see the UK government’s stay at home campaign during the pandemic, which got roundly slammed for only showing women doing chores. Burger King also found itself in hot water after a tweet with similarly misogynistic undertones. The chain’s attempt to highlight the gender disparity in the restaurant industry backfired and it was forced to retract the tweet and issue an apology.
But it’s about more than blind spots. Diversity also brings greater cultural intelligence and awareness, combining understanding of content and context.
The more representative teams are of society, the less likely they are to misstep. It’s much harder for teams to produce effective and inclusive marketing that reaches the right audience without understanding their points of view and problems they are trying to solve.
Diversity brings varied skill sets
Two people following the same brief won’t create the same content and won’t go about it in the same way. We can all learn from different people’s approaches – and this continuous learning keeps our skills on point and our ideas fresh.
By contrast, with the same old approach and angles content will wither and die, along with the interest of your audience.
Diversity allows you to better know your customer
Customer bases are increasingly global and connected. Companies are no longer marketing to a limited local audience. A diverse marketing team is not just a competitive advantage but a necessity if you really want to know your consumer base and connect with them.
But this said, marketing remains a non-diverse profession – a 2020 survey from Marketing Week found that 88% of respondents working in the wider marketing industry identified as white.
You can only truly communicate and connect with your audience if you understand them. You wouldn’t launch a social media campaign without first doing a deep dive into all the data available, and you should treat the insights a diverse and inclusive team brings no differently.
Actively nurturing diversity isn’t an optional extra, or something that matters for altruistic reasons — it’s also key to success. That’s why it’ll stay high on the agenda for all of us here at Formative Content, as we continue to challenge accepted norms and learn from each other.
If you would like to know more about Formative’s own diversity efforts, please email email@example.com
About the author: Paul Muggeridge is the Managing Director of Formative Content. Connect with Paul on LinkedIn here.
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