You may have heard about the D&G advertising faux-pas last week. If you haven’t you may still be able to google the news reports. Here’s the high-level summary: China was offended and D&G may well have lost a big market. For something that could have been avoided.
A simple truth…
There are many examples like this in recent times (Dove, H&M, Pepsi – to name a few) and for all of them there is a simple truth, the ignorance of which we avoid at our marketing, human resources, leadership, customer service and organizational peril: there are things we don’t know, won’t know, and can’t know if we are not members of a particular group. Period.
It’s really that simple.
And if we take that simple truth and apply it to something as visible as a marketing campaign, we should be able to make the leap to how diversity can benefit our bottom line. And so, many companies are scrambling to be more diverse.
Diversity is aesthetic. And because many people and organizations confuse the benefits of inclusion with the benefits of diversity, they stop there. Big mistake.
If your company is diverse but your environment is not inclusive, you can kiss the benefits of diversity goodbye. Those benefits only happen when the diversity represented among your staff, your board, your advisory teams, your leadership, your customer service team, etc. manifests in perspectives, ideas, innovation and creativity that is heard, considered and implemented.
OR, in the case of advertising – a STOP sign on campaigns that may seem harmless from one perspective, but devastating from another.
We don’t know everything
We are going to miss things.
We will make mistakes.
Both are inevitable.
And if we assemble diverse teams of people, and value their perspectives and input, and create an environment where everyone feels seen, heard and valued …and therefore can (and will) share these ideas, cautions, misgivings, and insights. Well, then we have a greater chance of someone catching and correcting these mistakes before they negatively impact others… like our employees or our customers.
In the meantime, here is a great place to start: Cultural Humility.
Cultural humility ultimately means recognizing that there are many things we don’t, can’t and won’t know about cultures (and I use the term broadly) that are not ours. It’s an awareness, an acceptance, and a way of being that reminds us that we are different, and that we will therefore experience and see things differently. And when we come from that place, we recognize that there are things we will miss, and we create an opportunity to ask questions.
Let me know how it goes.
PS – Happy Hannukah if you’re celebrating this week!