A view by Raja Rajamannar, WFA President and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of Mastercard
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We are communicators and ideas people. It is within our natures and the best interests of the whole world for us to throw open our doors to new perspectives and communicate them thoughtfully. As an industry, it is our job to represent and reflect the lives of the people we want to have a conversation with. If we ignore them, they most certainly will ignore us—and that’s the antithesis of what we do. We’re conveners, bridge makers, unifiers.
We do that best when we recognize people’s demands to be seen, to be heard and to be served. In today’s world, that means we have to authentically celebrate diversity and stand for purpose in our marketing. People want brands to assume an unambiguous stance in a chaotic globalized ecosystem, and it is our responsibility to reflect consumer needs, wants and, of course, their demands.
In WFA's Marketer Approach to Diversity, we have seen no shortage of bold ideas confidently communicated, where empathy and creativity are married to create something that truly resonates with our audience.
Our organization has the ability to set the example for business as a whole. We must ensure that our drive for diversity informs every decision, hire and partnership. It is common knowledge that no one can market to a specific community better than someone who identifies with that community, and the same is true in every area of a company.
We can create those champions by nurturing talent, giving them the ability to learn from other perspectives and allowing them to imbue their work with a cause close to their hearts.
To our everyday consumers, this is not just CSR, good communications, or adopting a purpose: it is a way for them to see the reality of their worlds and their experiences validated, acknowledged and promoted by brands. In creating champions of diversity within our own houses, we can become the champions for countless more who demand to be seen, and want help converting acknowledgment into action. And, as marketers, we are uniquely placed to be the hotline linking our consumers and employees, to foster tight, consistent relationships with CEOs, the board, HR and external stakeholder groups.
A purposeful brand mindset is a positive feedback loop: by putting trust in your employees, agencies and partners and allowing them to make a difference, it will improve brand perception externally and internally. In turn, it makes it easier to attract and retain the best, most diverse talent, which then leads to more authentic marketing and so on.
Authentic marketing is key, but it is also important to publicize these wins with humility. If you rush to tell the world about your next initiative, it’s likely to get you accused of virtue-signalling. When you do something socially valuable, you can’t be seen to be doing it for impressions, press coverage or positive ROI – and you shouldn’t be doing it for that reason.
Do it well and the coverage will follow naturally. Marketing is a powerful field, and as marketers we have the responsibility to reflect the wants from our consumers. By showing purpose, marketers are better able to connect and form deeper connections, allowing for more success toward your brand.
Be strong on the causes you want to support and never be afraid to admit that you need to ask for input from elsewhere. Meaningful brands appeal to the emotions of their consumers. Don’t forget to channel yours and your company’s when championing sensitive issues.
Achieving true equality is a work-in-progress and what is required of us to achieve it is constantly shifting with society’s expectations. Therefore, we invite you to contact us with any feedback and suggestions for future guides and resources.