by: Mkhuseli Vangile, Managing Director, The Dynaste Communications Firm
The previous political dispensation and its segregationist ideology of separating the different race groups socially and spatially has contributed a great deal to the incessant inequality and lack of inclusivity in the Public Relations (PR) and Marketing industries, respectively. While the country has made many strides in concerted efforts to bridge the inequality and inclusivity gap, a lot of work and transformation still needs to take place in these industries. To action the change, the onus is on the PR and marketing agencies, as well as corporates, to encourage diversity and inclusion.
Lack of equal opportunities is the reason why companies like Clicks find themselves in positions they were in. Companies must consciously diversify influential positions by all means necessary. In this day and age it is absolutely necessary to use service providers that diversify your supplier database centred on race, sexual orientation, gender and geography to balance the previous disadvantaged groups. Also, when hiring influential decision makers, companies must consciously find the previous disadvantaged groups to avoid selling their services and products while offending any group. Diversity means allowing voices from all walks of life to guide your brand when it tries to reach its clients/customers.
Inclusivity in PR and marketing campaigns, where consumers feel that they are represented, influences the manner in which consumers support particular brands. Adding to this, the 2018 Accenture Holiday Shopping survey found that 70 percent of millennials are more likely to choose a brand over another, if that brand proves to be inclusive and diverse in terms of its promotions and offers.
Furthermore, various scholars in the PR and marketing profession promote inclusive marketing as a more holistic approach to ensure that consumers are represented across the bar. The premise of inclusive marketing is founded upon the messages, individuals, methods and technological aspects empowering groups that are marginalised or underrepresented to completely experience and understand their favourite brands.
Moreover, marketing that is unequivocally inclusive should be mindful of the various aspects that form a person’s identity such as their skin tone, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, body type, or ethnicity.
While being mindful of individual differences, PR and marketing agencies should also be mindful of the intersectionality in individuals, because a single individual may embody several identities or dimensions; which is why a more inclusive approach acknowledges the intricacies that form an integral part to every individual’s personality and preferences.
In conclusion, when brands decide to hire people to diversify their organisation, they must allow the voices of these people to be loud and bold; because brands can hire individuals from different backgrounds, but silence their voices through that brand’s corporate culture.