Have you ever attended a party that someone hosted for you or someone close to you, and you did not recognize anyone at the party? You almost have to confirm this is YOUR party because everyone is a stranger! The party could be fun, the food could be delicious, and the music could be good, but the party will only be memorable with the people in your circle. So why were they not invited?
This party scenario represents companies without diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). Mainly, I want to talk about belonging. The Community Foundation defines it best, describing belonging as “rooted in feelings— individuals need to feel leveraged, valued, and celebrated for who they are and what they bring to a given situation.”
In most cases, companies can measure diversity, equity, and inclusion. Still, measured things can be regulated, and companies are now meeting the “numbers” for DEI areas, but the employees are not happy.
I identify as Generation Z and one thing our generation advocates for the most is being seen and heard. In the workplace, Gen Z has put its foot down and said no to a lack of diversity, inclusiveness, belonging, and toxic cultures accepted in the workforce for decades. Unfortunately, while major positive strides have been made in the workplace to incorporate DEIB, there are still plenty of parties happening where the guests of honor show up, and nobody who looks like them is there.
Companies making honest and genuine strides towards a more inclusive workplace where people feel like they belong will inevitably result in a memorable brand with a positive brand sentiment. Throwing a party that nobody cares about is a waste of time and money, and the same thing bears true in marketing today.
So, how can companies incorporate DEIB in their practices?
First, recognize the gap. Of course, no company is perfect, but the continuous effort to have representation and an equal playing field for everyone is essential.
Second, look internally. The best way to gauge what needs to change in your company is by asking the employees. You may have never noticed that all the upper-level managers are men or see the lack of diversity in the C-Suite.
Third, be genuine and transparent. It takes time to cultivate an inclusive company; change can happen in all different areas within, not only through hiring. Be open with your employees and the public about your efforts, allow people to hold you and your company accountable, and always look for opportunities to improve.
If your company prioritizes DEIB internally, your marketing will change, too. If customers cannot see themselves using your product or service through your marketing efforts, you automatically close off a channel and a conversion and vice versa. If your diverse marketing inspires a customer, but the company employees do not reflect that image, it closes off the channel of trust. DEIB should be a standard for all companies, but it is only a goal for some. It is a challenge but a rewarding one. Everyone should feel like they belong and are appreciated, so show that to your employees, show that through your hiring, and show that in your marketing.
Next time you evaluate your company, ask yourself, “Are we forgetting something?” Belonging is only one intentional initiative away from transforming the world of work as we know it.