Creating a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable industry
In recent years, to varying degrees, sectors across the business sphere have faced their own time of reckoning with regards to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). Sport and entertainment is one such sector.
It is why we brought together a panel of smart minds to explore and educate us, our clients, and our partners on this seminal topic. Hosted out of our New York office by Stephanie Smilowitz – Executive Vice President – the panel featured Kristy Singletary – Global DE&I Lead at Pfizer – Jarryd Boyd – Senior PR Manager at Hinge – and Mira Shane – a professional Lacrosse player with Athletes Unlimited, and DEI Lead at Verb Energy.
Across an engaging and informative session, some important themes emerged.
THIS IS NON-NEGOTIABLE
Diversity is a fact. And the demand for equity and inclusion, now, rightly, impossible to ignore. ‘It is extremely difficult to separate what is happening in the world with what is happening for you as a business. Brands need to be playing a part because this isn’t just about income anymore’ was Jarryd Boyd’s opening gambit.
It set the scene for a session which conveyed the seriousness of the topic, but did so in a light-hearted and humorous manner.
AUTHENTICITY BREEDS TRUST
This panel, like the consumers and clients they work with, care.
Mira Shane explained that ‘as a bi-racial, queer woman, whenever I am considering working with a brand, in the first exchange I will ask them what their policy is.’ Here she is looking for both action and humility. ‘I expect them to share their latest report with me, but I don’t want that alone, I want them to say that they are still learning.’
Shane is not alone in demanding more. Consumers, fans, athletes, artists, and employees alike expect this. Favour is no longer won by words. Rather, brands need to embody, champion, and cherish differences. Indeed, some 70% of millennials will choose one brand over another if it demonstrates diversity and inclusion through its marketing activity.
Exploring further this topic of authenticity, Kristy Singletary emphasised the need for brands to ‘clearly communicate the ‘why’, rather than just checking a box.’
She went on to explain that if this motive is not sound, then the risks are significant. ‘If you get too focussed on beating your competitors by connecting faster, stronger, and better, you can very easily get caught up in the ‘Woke Olympics’ when actually you should be considering how true it is to your brands’ values.’
This, Boyd shared, is one of the reasons why Hinge ‘opts to partner with another organisation, or community, so that we can focus on amplifying their voice rather than making it about us’.
This philosophy of enabling another voice to flourish was seconded by Shane who believes that ‘the trans community is under most attack right now, so I think supporting organisations that are already doing great work for this community is the way to go.’
It became apparent that long-term thinking over short-term gains was not just helpful in avoiding unwanted Olympic appearances, but also in ensuring that all communities were given a voice.
This strategy was summarised by Boyd who said that ‘we need to have thoughtful consideration across the whole year to ensure representation. To allow you enough space to go deep into these stories, and make each group feel seen.’
This approach of ‘less is more’ was supported by Singletary who at Pfizer understands the value of ‘looking at things across a journey map’ and knowing that ‘you can’t do everything because diversity fatigue is a real thing.’
Prominent throughout this engaging panel discussion was the need for community. These communities may be minority in size, but they are leading the way in their sense of belonging. They are courageous, connected, and vibrant.
It felt apt that we were left with a word of encouragement from Boyd to actively seek out community. ‘Allies who can be that sounding board. People internally who offer you a totally safe space, and externally who can provide you with perspective and an alternate angle.’
Watch the full discussion here.