How To Showcase Diversity & Inclusivity with Intent
About the Author
Brittany Noelle is a certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach. She helps women become stronger and more confident through her online weight training programs. She also loves making an impact in her community by showing people how to incorporate fitness into their lifestyles. She works with brands that are aligned with her values and who produce items or services that she feels will improve their quality of life.
If you’re a digital influencer or brand located in the United States, then you’re most likely aware that diversity and inclusion are currently hot topics for the nation. Those of us who belong to marginalized groups have always known about this crisis, but many “privileged' individuals were either oblivious or unphased by the issue until the Black Lives Matter movement resurfaced in June of 2020. Since then, brands seem to have been making an effort to become more inclusive and to showcase their diversity. This is great, but it’s important to do this authentically. Otherwise, it comes off like the brand is just doing it to make the media happy and to avoid backlash. Here are a few tips for showing diversity & inclusivity in your brand the right way.
As a brand, if you’ve evaluated your company and realized that your board members and marketing were not inclusive, be transparent about it. Let your audience know that you took time to evaluate and you’re making a conscious effort to change. Also, don’t just say it… SHOW IT! Be specific about the changes your brand plans to make, and then support those claims with social proof that you’re putting those plans into action. It’s not enough to just say you plan to change, you have to put in the work and show the change.
Your first instinct as a brand might be to dig through your archives and look for examples of how diverse your brand is. Looking for the few Black, Asian, Female, LGBTQ, and Latin people you’ve worked with in the past and featuring them in a blog post, email, or on social media. It’s a nice gesture, but it’s like saying you’re not racist because you have one Black friend. I know that I’ve felt that “ick” feeling when a brand asks to feature me and then I look at their influencer list and notice I’m the only Black female. It seems disingenuous and like I’m being used to check the Black History Month box.
Ultimately, it makes you feel good as the brand but it makes the marginalized people in your community feel like museum pieces on display. Not only that, but then the non-marginalized populations in your community feel like they’re being overshadowed and deemed temporarily unimportant. It makes for awkward feelings overall. The key is to find balance and to weave in your diversity and inclusion in a thoughtful way that doesn’t seem overt or forced. For example, if we were to take the first 9 squares of your Instagram, we should see every group represented equally. Brands that do this well are Beautycounter and Nike.
Reach Out Throughout the Year
With all of the social media holidays and designated months that we have now, it’s easy to fall into the trap of only marketing marginalized groups during their designated months and days. Examples are Black people for Black History Month and Juneteenth, Women for Women’s History Month or International Women's Day, and The LGBTQ community during Pride Month. It is of course appropriate to show your support for the members of your community during these holidays and months, but be thoughtful in spotlighting and celebrating them all year round. Remember, the goal is to seamlessly represent all of your populations equally and without bias. So your audience should always get to see how diverse and inclusive your brand is throughout the years.
As an Influencer, there are ways for you to audit brands and see if they are being inclusive and diverse. Choosing to only work with inclusive brands will go a long way in making it normal that all brands be diverse and inclusive. If brands see their bottom lines are being affected by the decrease in Influencer marketing, they will be more inclined to change their marketing and start being more inclusive. Here are a few ways you can audit brands before deciding to work with them.
See What Other Influencers They Are Working With
If you’re thinking about applying to a campaign, see what other Influencers have been accepted into that campaign. Look for diversity before accepting or applying to that campaign. If a brand sends you a proposal, ask them if they’re able to disclose a list of other influencers they’ve partnered with. I encourage you to also reach out to that list and ask them if they’re comfortable sharing how much they were compensated or the campaign. This is to ensure that creators of color are not being lowballed on their rates.
Check Their Social Media & Website
When deciding whether or not to partner with a brand, take a look at their social media networks and website and see if they’re using diverse and inclusive images. Do you see different ethnic groups, ages, body shapes, people with disabilities, or people belonging to the LGBTQ community? If the answer is no, ask the brand about it and see what they say? Are they working on changing their marketing? Decide from there if you’d like to work with them.
Research Their Past
If you’re unfamiliar with a brand you’re considering working with, make sure you do a quick Google search of their brand history. See if they have any record of not being inclusive, diverse, or of being racist or bais. You don’t need to necessarily cancel that brand, but you should see if they’ve taken steps to make amends and change their brand messaging.
I know from experience that when you’re a full-time content creator, there are busy and slow periods when it comes to getting brand deals. During those slow periods, you might be tempted to snatch up any brand deal offer. But in the long run, it’s not worth compromising your values and integrity to work with a brand that ultimately doesn’t care about your equality. Your audience will respect you for not promoting just any brand. It might cost you short-term money, but it will yield long-term loyalty and revenue.
Now that you’ve gotten these diversity and inclusion tips, it’s time to put them in action! As a brand, pass this information onto your marketing departments. As an influencer, start seeking those brands that are showcasing inclusivity & diversity in mindful ways and add them to your potential partnerships list.