Inclusion and diversity: how to meet great expectations

How do brands navigate the landscape of inclusion and diversity to have an impact upon their consumers?

With a shift in public attitudes, and calls for greater diversity becoming louder, consumers are now looking to brands to act and take responsibility. In the context of growing global movements catalysed by the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, it is no longer enough for brands to simply have a generalised viewpoint on social issues regarding diversity and inclusion – consumers are looking to see changes that make a meaningful impact.

Currently, consumers expectations are not met by brands. Kantar’s Global Monitor found that 39% of global consumers agreed with the statement that “not enough brands do a good job of representing people similar to me or my community.” (Kantar Global Monitor 2021)

As consumer demands for diversity become increasingly prominent, businesses face a choice: to either embrace diversity and new growth opportunities, or encounter numerous challenges from their consumers. Gen Z – the generation set to shape our future zeitgeist – especially place emphasis on diversity and inclusion issues. Brands should recognise that diversity is integral to youth culture and failing to embrace this can alienate them and jeopardise future growth.

Businesses that have a 360-degree approach towards diversity are likely to succeed more than their counterparts. In 2020, McKinsey reported that the top quartile of companies with more ethnic and cultural diversity outperformed those in the fourth quartile by 36% (McKinsey 2020). In this context, it is imperative for brands to step up to address discrimination and promote inclusion. But how can brands navigate this landscape carefully to ensure that they embrace diversity and inclusion rather than alienate consumers through performative efforts?

This article was published exclusively on on July 1, 2021.