A dramatic shift in diversity is only possible if the most exposed, vulnerable and or marginalised groups contribute to decision-making around narratives, ideas and solutions. Can you name any brands that are championing race within their purpose work and doing it well?
The imperative for companies to include anti-racism, intersectionality and inclusivity as cross-cutting filters when executing on their brand purpose is strong. There is more pressure than ever coming from customers; and there is increasing evidence to suggest that brands that truly embody these issues are more relevant and successful.
According to the most recent Edelman Trust Barometer survey, conducted in June, 78 percent of Americans aged 18-34 and 48 percent of over-55s want brands to speak out against systemic racism following the death of George Floyd. While 32 percent of Millennials globally believe that businesses should try to improve society, only 16 percent think that brands are doing so (Deloitte, 2019). And it is estimated that refusing to adequately invest in diversity, equity and inclusion also costs the UK an incredible £127 billion per year.
Truly embracing anti-racism, intersectionality and inclusivity requires brands to make a shift from a narrow/singular view of diversity — which is primarily performative or reactive (it focuses solely on quotas, isolated marketing or campaigning, etc.) — to thinking systemically and more long term. These ideas need to manifest across all brand touch-points from product and service development, company culture, supply chain and sourcing to brand activations (including marketing and campaigning) and beyond.
The brands embracing and acting on these ideas holistically are already changing the landscape; ushering in a new generation of brands that are more relevant, accessible, and available to the diverse wants and needs of today’s customers, users and citizens.
Here in the UK, British Vogue; Rihanna’s lingerie brand, Savage x Fenty; and the publication Gal-dem are just a few brands doing interesting work to embrace radical representation inside and outside of their businesses. By bringing this to the mainstream, they’re creating a decisive shift in traditionally white-dominated industries. Other pioneers include Jamii — which offers a new type of business model, championing UK-based, black-owned brands and businesses; and in turn, the digital marketplace creates more space in the market for ethnic minorities.
Brands such as Antidote Street, Beautystack and Radswan are bringing new products or services to address gaps in the beauty market. They place emphasis on customer co-creation to shape things like product development, marketing and events.
But a dramatic shift in diversity is only possible if the most exposed, vulnerable and or marginalised groups have a seat at the table. To make this a reality, brands need to look inside their businesses at whether their existing workforce is reflective of society; but also, they find new ways to partner and collaborate with people outside of their business — and this includes the most unheard voices. This shouldn’t just be about understanding and generating insight; but enabling contribution to decision-making around narratives, ideas and solutions.
Can you name any brands that are championing race within their purpose work and doing it well?
This article first appeared in sustainablebrands.com