A repurposed & edited post from a post by Charlotte Williams on thestylum.com in 2018:
We talk a lot about Diversity and Inclusion here at SevenSix Agency as it comes from a personal place. We don’t think brands need to work on their internal and external D&I strategies, we know they do. Something that I’ve seen and become used to throughout both my educational and working life is that I have been one of the few. One of the very few people of colour in the room, that is. It’s something I’ve learned to live with and be comfortable with throughout my life through necessity, and it’s something a lot of my colleagues, friends and even family have never had to think about or experience.
THE OFFICE EXPERIENCE
The lack of racial diversity in campaigns is something that gets talked about a lot in influencer marketing and I truly believe it stems from the lack of racial diversity within the teams creating the campaigns. Generally, in London when marketing and PR teams look around their offices they are safe in that they aren’t the “other” as they’re looking around a room of people who look and sound just like them. This then translates into their influencer marketing campaigns as they are using the same lens to build their lists. Think about your personal Instagram feed for a second, who are you following? We tend to follow people who we aspire to look like or aspire to be like, there is no coincidence that my personal feed is filled with light skin mixed-race curly-haired women who look like prettier/more polished versions of me and female entrepreneurs that I aspire to be like. So when the teams are building their campaigns they are probably looking for people that they “have access to”, people they would see daily on their feeds. Then when it comes to adding in that sprinkle of “diversity” they’ll call upon one from the handful of influencers of colour that are on rotation at that time.
I remember a few years ago seeing an influencer press trip that really caught my eye. About five influencers were flown from London to LA for a product launch, all were women who looked almost identical; same style, same skin tone, same straight hair. The purpose of influencer marketing is to widen your audience through reaching the influencer’s following. All I could think about is the fact that they had paid for one demographic 5x over because if these women all looked and dressed the same, I imagine their demographic would be pretty much identical too.
There are many people who would see this content and see no issue with it, but in my opinion, it’s a wasted opportunity. Finding 5 influencers who match the brand but reach slightly different communities (all with a relevant demographic to the brand) would be a great opportunity to broaden your reach. A top tip for ensuring you do this with ease is to get visual with your lists. My team and I are creatives so Excel spreadsheets have nothing on a Keynote presentation with pictures. We create visual campaign boards for our clients to make sure we can see what our little crews look like together.
HOW CAN WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE
The reason why so many brands have had marketing catastrophes over the last few years is that they’ve not had enough people in their teams to check for sensitivity. So how can we make campaigns more diverse you ask? If you work in marketing or PR, look around your office, who do you see in the room? If you’re not a minority, does everyone look like you or can you see an array of different faces and races? If the answer is no to the latter, you need to bring this up with HR and senior management. HR Managers, COOs, CEOs & MDs, you should be looking around too. Who are you hiring? Where are you finding them? Are you doing your part to create equality in your workplace? I’ve spoken a lot about race in this article as that is my personal experience but we also need to think about the other diversity pillars. Class, people with visible and invisible disabilities, people from the LGBTQ+ community… we need a variety of different life experiences to help create campaigns that are creative and reflective of the world we live in.