Taking diversity and inclusion to the next level

Nick Gold, MD of Speakers Corner, discusses why brands need to say less and do more, and how they can use live virtual events to progress the conversation.

An escalator

Where the Black Lives Matter protests differ from similar events is now businesses are being challenged to face uncomfortable truths. As soon as the protests erupted we saw brands were moved to release statements in which they advocated, they endorsed and they espoused their commitment to the movement.

And we know now more than ever before customers are choosing which brands to engage with based on how their purpose and values match to their own ideals. We are now in a space where actions, not words, are what we are judged on.

We’ve seen the origins of the diversity and inclusion debate as an action point which should bind people together and create buy in from all people involved. The challenge is how the marketing department plays a role in shaping the internal conversation so we can move away from the polarisation and divisiveness that has cascaded through society towards an understanding that differing opinions and thoughts encourage learning and acceptance of alternative ideas.

This is a period when we are looking for thought leaders and experts around diversity and inclusivity to raise questions and highlight issues encouraging action rather than just awareness. It is understood that for true understanding, vulnerability must be shown and embedded privilege and perception be challenged.

What have we seen over time is a requirement and need for speakers to educate and inspire about the benefits of having diverse voices and ideas to help a company make decisions. There has been an increased understanding about how critically businesses can use the diverse world we live in to harness the full potential of everyone around us.

Marketing departments can spend as much time, energy and money aligning their messaging to the Black Lives Matter movement as they wish but that hard work will be undermined when actions (or inaction) by the business and/or its employees conflict with the external message. Customers will vote with their feet.

There isn’t a quick fix solution available, but paradoxically the social distanced measures we are living in mean that opening up the diversity and inclusion debate across a virtual event is ideally suited to a debate and discussion which brings people together to create action.

Firstly, the concept that everyone has a front row seat means that every person on the virtual event is part of the conversation, with the right speaker leading the conversation, then everyone should be encouraged to participate and feel involved. This platform is thus ideally suited for a discussion where we can educate each other.

The virtual event relies on the content, messaging and interactivity to draw energy and engagement into the room. It allows everyone to be part of the conversation, to be engaged

and be given a chance to contribute, therefore we’re seeing the virtual event becoming the means whereby we can all be part of the change and be engaged with the process.

Sowing the seeds of discussion at this moment in time around diversity and inclusion driven by the Black Lives Matter movement will reap rich rewards when the recession starts to bite and customers think twice about spending their money with brands who prefer to keep the status quo.

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