Your Content Must Reflect Diversity, Inclusion and Equity
The peaceful and not-so-peaceful protests in the past few weeks following the tragic death of George Floyd have revealed the systemic racial division across the United States. Fortunately, people all over the world, including here in Canada and several European countries, are recognizing that we have to work together to fight racism. We must speak out against police brutality, racist policies, and bigotry. Our children need to be taught to be kind and fair, regardless of race, skin colour, gender, or socio-economic status.
As a business, you can take a stand, by promising to be more diverse and inclusive in creating content. Remaining silent and relegating to the sidelines is showing complicity in the injustice around us. It’s time to show support by speaking up, not by turning a blind eye and keeping silent.
What Does Diverse and Inclusive Content Look Like?
In 1971, Coca-Cola gathered young people from around the world to sing their famous, “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke.” At the time, it was a ground-breaking phenomenon because it brought people of all races and ethnicities together. Over 40 years later, when the “Share a Coke” campaign came out, Coca-Cola continued its commitment to diversity by including ethnic names on their bottles. Inclusive and diverse content includes people of all types. Dove Beauty products did it well in 2004 when they began their “Campaign for Real Beauty.” An inclusive and diverse platform isn’t a checklist of items, but an underlying attitude of celebrating all races, ages, genders, and any other demographics that matter to your brand.
Building a Diverse and Inclusive Content Marketing Platform
Your content can’t be a knee-jerk reaction to recent events. It’s not enough to create one or two posts that identify your commitment to standing against racism. Racism has been a problem for generations. We can use the current issues as a catalyst and address the situation through content, but real change will only come through building a diverse and inclusive platform. Here are some ways to do this within your organization:
- Offer training on multiculturism or look for multicultural marketing strategists.
- Do a content audit that looks at diversity or the lack thereof, to know where to build diversity into your marketing strategy.
- Identify implicit bias, which is the unconscious stereotypes that impact and shape our decisions about other people.
Style and Grammar Matter
Writers and editors can’t assume that they know and understand the correct terms to identify race. When creating inclusive content, you may be wondering is it “black” or “Black”? Or should it be African-American? The correct answer isn’t easy. The Associated Press Style Guide calls for black to be in lower-case letters, but it also has a new section relating to race coverage. The Chicago Manual of Style lets the author decide. Some believe that Black should be capitalized when it is used in a racial context. When editing, it’s important to look at content and make sure that what you are saying is inclusive. Here are some resources:
- Conscious Style Guide - a great online conversation for anyone on style and grammar, but also on recognizing stereotypes and creating diversity.
- The Diversity Style Guide - a free online resource that addresses multiculturism.
Shift Your Thinking to Make Long-Term Changes
Many well-meaning businesses are using the current climate to demonstrate support, but without lasting commitment to inclusion and diversity, nothing will change significantly. Good content marketers will need to recognize implicit biases in their content and work hard to make changes. Don’t just say that your business is going to change. Actively work to be more diverse and inclusive in your content.
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