18 January 2010

Why Diversity is important in Marketing, and how you can help achieve it in the workplace

Diversity is critical to embracing the changes and challenges of modern marketing.

Today is a good day to think about diversity since we celebrate a U.S. holiday in remembrance of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist pastor and civil rights leader who personifies our country's struggle to establish equality for everyone in a very diverse society. You can read all about Rev. King on Wikipedia.

The importance of diversity in society requires no explanation. Why is diversity important in marketing, then?

Marketing has an influence on society

Marketing and advertising have an influence on society: our messages, images, words and music set the trends rather than follow them. This is often lamentable but it is almost always powerful and we dare not misunderstand it. Hence we should consider diversity when we prepare something for public consumption. A very tangible action, for example, is to hire diverse on-camera talent.

Diversity is also important behind the camera and in the office. We are more likely to present diversity in our work if we have it in our workforce. Much has been written about the need for our employee roster to match the diversity in our society, and I share the commitment to making it happen.

Modern marketing demands diversity

Diversity in the workplace is even more important when one considers that marketing plans and tools themselves are more diverse than ever. In Ye Olde Marketing the planning process was relatively straightforward because we had only three TV networks and limited other media available. Today, of course, there are hundreds of tools and millions of ways to combine them. If you appreciate the diversity of it all, your mind will be open to new creative possibilities.

The same applies to human diversity, be it racial , social or economic. If you appreciate the diversity of the people around you, your mind will be open to new creative possibilities. Diversity is not only a moral imperative; it's an ingredient in business success.

Modern marketers value diversity

How do we achieve a more diverse workforce? There are numerous corporate, government and other programs available, which I won't try to catalog here. I only suggest that if your company offers a course or workshop, take it -- and take it seriously. Many of these are high-quality, and it's never a waste of time to stop and challenge the way we think about our relationships with others.

This is akin to developing yourself as a Renaissance Practitioner -- someone who recognizes their own unique perspective but works hard to appreciate the perspective of others. Shouldn't we work just as hard to understand a colleague's life experience as we do their professional specialty?

My answer would be "Yes" -- and we must try to make a little bit of progress each day.


  1. Steve,

    Thanks for writing this. This issue will not get resolve until we apply a healthy dose of energy to it. You've thought about it and even decided to talk about it.

    By the way, I enjoyed the Renaissance Practitioner, I think many of us who started a while ago are this but we didn't know what to call it. LOL

    Hopefully, we can talk one day.

  2. Dear Derek: Thanks very much for the encouraging words. It means a lot. I write a lot about strategy, creative and analytics, but none of those would ever happen without the people who do them, and the people's work is better when the workforce is diverse and everyone respects one another. So in a way this is one of my most important posts. Please feel free to contact me at any time!

  3. Steve,

    Drop me an email so that I can get your contact information.


  4. Hi Steve,
    Thanks so much for the Big Tent comments. It is always great to hear new voices and perspectives. Did not know about you. I do quite a bit of work with Draftfcb in NY and Corporate and good to know you are blazing a trail.

  5. well shared, my man...well shared!
    peace & play...