More than 20 years ago, I started my career in sports marketing. One of my early memories in that industry is a meeting in which we identified an opportunity to grow our event attendance by attracting more families. According to behavioral research at the time the key was to target mothers, who were the primary decision-makers for family activities. Dad would always be open to going to a game, but we needed mom to drive it.
So we began to strategize how to market and deliver an experience that was appealing to mothers. Our first step was to convene our internal team… of mostly young, single, white males – the predominant demographic of the organization at the time. As you can imagine, our eerily similar life experiences weren’t conducive to designing an optimal plan.
Of course, we quickly realized we didn’t have the right people in the room. We were ultimately successful by engaging external research and partners. But our success took longer, was more expensive, and was much more painful than if we simply had a diverse team in place, to begin with.
This early experience informed how I have built teams over the course of my career. I learned the opportunity cost of not having inclusive teams. How many potential customers do we miss because our product isn’t designed or marketed appropriately to address their needs? How many talented people do we overlook because of unconscious bias baked into traditional stereotypes of certain roles or industries?
Cultural competence is increasingly important as we navigate generational and demographic shifts in the workplace. As marketers, we have the power to make a difference. We can #unleashthemagic of diverse populations as we shape brands, tell stories, and normalize social behaviors. As leaders, we can amplify underrepresented voices and overlooked perspectives.
I’m proud of AMA Triangle for our commitment to address inequity within our marketing community. Join us on January 7 for a discussion to support each other’s continued learning, wherever we are in our journey of understanding and supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Written by AMA Triangle’s AVP of DEI, Chris Herndon