Even before the pandemic, women handled multiple responsibilities at once, from running a business to a household, caring for family or for community, and more. Unfortunately, the pandemic has made it more difficult for women to continue in so many roles—in fact, one in four women are considering scaling back their career or leaving the workforce, according to LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Co.1.

A key reason for this change may be that women bear the brunt of domestic duties. In Facebook’s most recent Global State of Small Business Report, created with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank, 31% of women business leaders surveyed reported spending more time on domestic tasks than before the pandemic.2

Women have faced—and defied—setbacks before. But they shouldn’t have to advance progress alone. Brands can and should help women as they strive to achieve the equality they deserve.

Beyond being the right thing to do, increasing diversity in marketing can help business. Research has shown that diverse representation can increase ad recall.3 Another study found that brands with the most representative ads saw a 44% average stock increase over two years, 69% better business performance and 83% higher preference.4

Brand leaders can help remove barriers for women by considering how every decision drives inclusive representation. Here are 10 ways to put diversity at the core of your business:

Support women suppliers.

As of 2019, there were 12.9 million women-owned businesses in the U.S.,5 yet they received only 4.75% of federal contracts in fiscal year 2018.6 Organizations can take these steps to support women suppliers:

  1. Today: Hire women suppliers using databases provided by organizations such as the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).
  2. This quarter: Offer workshops, professional matchmaking events, investment opportunities, training and other resources for women business owners.
  3. This half: Set aside part of your products—and shelf space—for women-owned businesses. When Brother Vellies Creative Director Aurora James called on brands to commit 15% of their offerings to Black-owned businesses, several retailers in the U.S. and Canada signed the pledge.7 Consider making a similar commitment to women-owned businesses. At Facebook, we’ve promised to spend at least $1 billion with women and diverse suppliers every year.

Examine how your brand represents women.

  1. Today: Assess whether your creative contributes to harmful stereotypes. For example, are women in your commercials always cooking or doing laundry? According to an Unstereotype Alliance study, only 7% of women are shown in nontraditional, unstereotyped roles in advertising around the world.8

You can use marketing bias auditing tools such as the Geena Davis Institute’s GDIQ, which analyzes gender representation for brands and media creators. And the Association of National Advertisers assesses the sales lift impact of cultural representation in advertising and media through Cultural Impact Insights Measure (CIIM).

  1. This quarter: Include criteria for gender, race and sexual orientation in your briefs, scripts and casting documents. Consider representing intersectional identities that combine these attributes. To gain inspiration about inclusive marketing, register for “Forward Together,” a Facebook-hosted content series with videos launching on March 24.
  2. This half: Hire a diverse team so your creative can be more authentic in how it reaches a broader range of women’s voices.

Share the stage: Help amplify historically underrepresented voices.

  1. Today: Build awareness for women’s interests during cultural moments such as Women’s History Month. Consider creating a social media post commemorating women who’ve made an impact.
  2. This quarter: Invite women to share their stories. On International Women’s Day, March 8, Pure Leaf’s “No Is Beautiful” social media campaign featured videos of women describing how they’ve said no to distractions in order to say yes to opportunities that changed their lives.
  3. This half: Elevate women’s voices in your products or services. Ancestry.com has created a tool for people to understand how their own women ancestors may have experienced suffrage.

Collaborate with others working to make a difference.

  1. Today: Connect with and learn from other leaders, which can make a big impact on your own journey. During Women’s History Month, Facebook is offering networking and learning opportunities to small and medium business leaders and entrepreneurs around the world through our #SheMeansBusiness Spring Training virtual program.

Small steps toward greater inclusivity can add up to a sea change of progress. Together, we can eliminate barriers and support women as they seek to accomplish their dreams and serve their communities.

This article first appeared in  www.adage.com

Seeking to build and grow your brand using the force of consumer insight, strategic foresight, creative disruption and technology prowess? Talk to us at +971 50 6254340 or mail: engage@groupisd.com or visit www.groupisd.com/story

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