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August 27, 2014

Diversity Is A Mind-Set

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The issue of diversity in the creative industries is one that has drawn much attention in recent months. Comedian Lenny Henry has been leading the charge for BME representation in television, whilst radio presenter Iain Lee has been making ill-considered asides on-air in relation to black and Asian radio shows. Even the high-profile resignations of politicians in recent weeks have raised questions around diversity and representation at the top level of government.

Whether in support of representation, or highlighting the fact that there’s clearly still work to be done, the issue of diversity and representation continues to make small pockets of noise in popular media, putting it under a much needed and often forgotten gaze.

For me, what all these examples have in common is that they underline a certain lack when it comes to this question of diversity; lack of representation, lack of tolerance, lack of space.

This article in Marketing Week – published earlier this year – highlights the need for marketing teams to be more diverse in order to improve their outputs. It’s a fact that our industry is lagging behind in drawing in talent from BME backgrounds. The onus falls on us to interrogate why.

Does marketing reflect the diversity of a multi-cultural Britain? Are we taking it seriously enough?

For me, it’s all in the approach.

Diversity is a mind-set. It’s demonstrating an active willingness to not just replicate ideas, activity, things in your own image. It’s about the implementation of a methodology that doesn’t just build its concepts on basic assumptions, but rather one that seeks to create and generate through grounded, quality insights.

If managed correctly, a diverse workforce brings a widened perspective, richer experiences that distil down into quality insight. Through building these insights into our campaigns, they’ll not only resonate with minority audiences, but go further in unlocking the potential make audiences realise that they exist in each other’s worlds. Apprehension in opening up businesses and teams to a variety of influences will only serve to limit your productivity.

It’s about not trying to speak on behalf of audiences, but rather inviting the audience to speak for themselves. As marketers, it’s our job and responsibility to provide them with that platform to do so.

Apple recently published their 2014 Diversity in the Workplace report. Their open admission in highlighting that there’s still more they could be doing to diversify their workforce bodes well for progressive, innovative and committed advancements around the issue.

Diversity starts with the individual’s mind-set. If you’re reading this in your office, then I’d ask you to take a second to look up from your screen and take in what you see around you…do see you see a diverse working environment? What does it look like to you? What could make it a more diverse environment?

27.08.2014, Will de Groot, Senior Account Executive at Livity

@willdegroot