Congratulations on your success. I’m positive that you worked your ass off to get to where you are, and I’m equally certain that you had a lot of help getting there that others didn’t have. Now the question is, what will you do with your position? Will you lend your voice to help those who don’t have the same opportunity as you?
Recently I wrote about how easy it is for non-diverse marketing campaigns to move through approvals. In the first part of this short series on being a white man in marketing I want to discuss how you can influence those campaigns and make them more representative. The truth is that there are three easy ways to try and make these campaigns more equitable. These are stop and think, look around, and speak up.
Stop and Think:
Marketing moves fast, especially when you work in an agency. No one is going to deny that working on between four and seven clients at a time means juggling multiple projects. However, when you’re in the first stage of developing a marketing campaign take an extra day, or hour, to stop and think about the campaign that is being proposed. Are there any red flags? Does your campaign disparage a certain group? Are there multiple ethnicities being portrayed? Does this campaign accurately represent your population, and more broadly that of the US?
Once you’ve stopped to analyze your campaign, look around at who’s in the room? Does everyone have a similar background? Are there any marginalized communities in the room? This is critical because individuals from different backgrounds will have different reactions to campaigns. If there is limited diversity among those creating the campaign, then you run a high risk of promoting a campaign that is not truly representative.
If you look around and there is limited diversity among key stakeholders, as there often is, or if no one has discussed diversity, the best thing you can do is speak up. You might not be able to radically alter the final product, you might be shot down and laughed at (god knows I was at a previous organization), and it will be hard, but your speaking up challenges your organization to think more about diversity. It means that you’re bringing up a conversation that was sorely missing. Only by having this conversation multiple times over the course of multiple campaigns will things start to change. It will, however, slowly start to change. And if you need some help in starting the conversation, point out that having a non-diverse campaign can cost your organization millions in brand damage.