As marketers focus on content that engages audiences, we often find ourselves ideating and designing campaigns with small groups of people similar to ourselves. While marketers are striving for personalization and engagement, being diverse in our messaging is overlooked far too often. And, by overlooking cultures, genders, sexual preferences, and disabilities… our messages meant to engage can actually marginalize people who aren’t like us.
Inclusivity should be a priority in every marketing message. Unfortunately, the media industry is still missing the mark:
- Women are 51% of the population but only 40% of broadcast leads.
- Multicultural people are 39% of the population but only 22% of broadcast leads.
- 20% of Americans ages 18-34 identify as LBGTQ but only make up 9% of primetime regulars.
- 13% of Americans have disabilities yet only 2% of primetime regulars have a disability.
By focusing on inclusivity, the media can help counter stereotypes and help reduce unconscious bias.
- Equality – aiming to promote fairness but it can only work if everyone starts from the same place and needs the same help.
- Equity – is giving everyone what they need to be successful whereas equality is treating everyone the same.
- Intersectionality – the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.
- Tokenism – the practice of making only a symbolic effort to be inclusive of underrepresented people, especially by recruiting a small number of underrepresented people in order to tive the appearance of equality.
- Unconscious bias – attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.
This infographic from YouTube provides a detailed checklist that you can use with any creative team to ensure inclusivity is a driver in the planning, execution, and target audience of the content that you’re creating. Here’s a run-down of the checklist… which I modified to use for any organization for any content… not just video:
Content: What topics are covered and what perspectives are included?
- For my current content projects, have you actively sought diverse perspectives, especially those that differ from your own?
- Does your content work to address or debunk stereotypes about marginalized groups and help the audience view others with complexity and empathy?
- Does your content (especially news, history, and science-related) give voice to multiple perspectives and cultures?
Onscreen: What do people see when they visit me?
- Is there diversity in my content? Are experts and thought leaders from diverse backgrounds along multiple dimensions of identity (gender, race, ethnicity, ability, etc.) featured in my content?
- Among my last 10 pieces of content, is there diversity among the voices that are represented?
- If I use animations or illustrations, do they feature a variety of skin tones, hair textures, and genders?
- Is there diversity among the voices that narrate my content?
Engagement: How do I engage and support other creators?
- For collaborations and new projects, am I looking at a diverse pipeline of candidates at various career stages, and is intersectionality taken into account?
- Do I take opportunities to leverage my platform to elevate and support creators from underrepresented backgrounds?
- Am I educating myself about marginalized perspectives by engaging diverse communities/content?
- How is my organization working to cultivate diverse voices and empower next generation communicators/influencers?
- How does my organization avoid tokenism? Do we engage experts and communicators from underrepresented backgrounds for opportunities that extend beyond diversity-related content?
- How do budgets and investments reflect the commitment to diversity and inclusion?
Audience: How do I think about audiences when making content?
- Who is the intended audience? Have I considered constructing my content to seek out and engage a broadly-diverse audience?
- If my content includes subject matter that is culturally biased against certain groups, am I providing context that can welcome diverse audiences?
- When conducting user research, does my institution ensure that diverse perspectives are sought and included?
Content Creators: Who is on my team?
- Is there diversity among the teams working on my content?
- Do the demographics of my team reflect the general population, not just the current audience?
- Am I engaging experts and thought leaders from diverse backgrounds along multiple dimensions of identity (gender, race or ethnicity, ability, etc.) as consultants on my projects?