• Home
  • Insights
  • Blog
  • The Ultimate Guide to Diversity & Inclusion in Marketing [Insights from Experts]

The Ultimate Guide to Diversity & Inclusion in Marketing [Insights from Experts]

We asked the experts for tips and insights on addressing diversity in marketing


1. The Need for Diversity and Inclusion in Marketing 

Company: Maryville University 


Statistics show that America is becoming increasingly more diverse, as recent data reveals that growth among racial and ethnic minority populations outpaces that of Caucasians. It’s vital for modern marketers to know their audience, but they should also remember that diversity extends beyond race alone. Today, promoting revenue and brand image means defining and communicating with audiences as individuals, including people of all ages, socio-economic classes, and genders. Ultimately, the key to staying competitive lies in providing diversified content for diversified audiences, in a way that actually represents present-day society.


Company: Deloitte 

In our survey of 11,500 global consumers, we found the youngest respondents (from 18 to 25 years old) took greater notice of inclusive advertising when making purchase decisions (figure 1).

When we examined the US results by ethnicity and race, respondents were up to two-and-a-half times more likely to be aware of a brand prominently promoting diversity when making a product or experience purchasing decision if they identified as Asian or Pacific Islander, Black or African American, Hispanic American, Native American or Alaska Native, or multiracial or biracial.

— Nathan Young, Christina Brodzik, Nikki Drake, Sarah Cuthill

Company: Microsoft

Inclusive advertising drives trust. Our research shows that inclusion in advertising feels like connection or a version of family where there are underlying feelings that inclusive advertising produces in people.

70% of Gen Z consumers are more trusting of brands that represent diversity in ads.

69% of Gen Z consumers said that brands that represent diversity are more authentic.

— Microsoft Advertising

2. Look at Your Team

Company: McKinsey

McKinsey has been examining diversity in the workplace for several years. … The findings were clear:

  • Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
  • Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians (exhibit).
  • In the United States, there is a linear relationship between racial and ethnic diversity and better financial performance: for every 10 percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the senior-executive team, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rise 0.8 percent.
  • In the United Kingdom, greater gender diversity on the senior-executive team corresponded to the highest performance uplift in our data set: for every 10 percent increase in gender diversity, EBIT rose by 3.5 percent.
  • The unequal performance of companies in the same industry and the same country implies that diversity is a competitive differentiator shifting market share toward more diverse companies.

— Vivian Hunt, Dennis Layton, Sara Prince


3. Mirror a True Reflection

Who are the people around you, and who are you trying to reach? Consumer purchase intent doubles and more with socially conscious advertising; however, that doesn’t mean much if you aren’t genuine.


Company: Forbes 

In 2019, Adobe conducted a research report of more than 2,000 consumers. Their results showed that 66% of African-Americans, and 53% of Latino and Hispanic Americans feel their ethnicity is portrayed stereotypically in advertisements.

This is a challenge, because that same report showed that 61% of Americans find diversity in advertising important, and 38% of consumers are more likely to trust brands that do well with showing diversity in their ads.

— Nathan Young, Christina Brodzik, Nikki Drake, Sarah Cuthill 

4. Take the Time to Truly Understand

The phrase “there are no shortcuts in life” can be applied in many ways, but it especially holds true when considering the importance of diversity in marketing.


Company: Think with Google

The Female Quotient partnered with Google and Ipsos this past summer to survey nearly 3,000 U.S. consumers of various backgrounds to understand perceptions surrounding diversity and inclusion in advertising. My team and I asked people about the factors they think are important for a brand’s ad campaign to be considered diverse or inclusive. Specifically, we surveyed respondents about 12 categories: gender identity, age, body type, race/ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, skin tone, language, religious/spiritual affiliation, physical ability, socio-economic status, and overall appearance.

We learned that people are more likely to consider, or even purchase, a product after seeing an ad they think is diverse or inclusive (in reference to the 12 categories discussed in this study).

— Shelley Zalis, The Female Quotient, Ipsos 

5. Create a Content Diversity Checklist 

You want to consider many groups when publishing content and posting marketing campaigns. To keep consumer sentiments at heart at all times, create a content quality checklist and audit.


Company: The Business Journals

While many businesses have publicly voiced their commitments to diversity, it’s important to measure that commitment and ensure you’re truly creating an inclusive environment. That’s why we asked members of Business Journals Leadership Trust how you can tell if you’re making progress in your diversity and inclusion efforts, or whether you’re struggling to keep up. Ask yourself these questions to gauge where you’re at with your diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

  1. Is diversity and inclusion a continuous process?
  2. Do you have a diverse group of decision-makers across the organization?
  3. Are you regularly reviewing progress?
  4. Are your employees benefiting from your efforts?
  5. Is there diversity at every level of your company?
  6. What are your employees saying?
  7. Is your diverse workforce organically shaping an inclusive culture?
  8. Are all your stakeholders providing honest feedback on the state of your D&I efforts?
  9. Are you having communication breakdowns?
  10. Is your organization viewing D&I as more than an HR initiative?

Business Journals Leadership Trust Expert Panel®

6. Create a Content Diversity Audit

Company: Litmus


At Litmus, we try to do this not only through ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion work and training internally, but also by providing paid volunteer time off (VTO) for all employees to get to know their communities and give back to them. A lot of what we individually learn in the process is shared throughout the company in various Slack channels, team meetings, and during our all-hands meetings. While we certainly have difficult conversations as a team, we welcome those conversations as an opportunity to actually figure out what our values are, instill them in our work, and grow as a company.

On a practical level, we need to take to heart that, as Kevin put it, “Change happens with a bunch of intentional, small decisions.” For marketers actually creating campaigns and building emails, some of those small decisions could be to:


  • Include people of color (POC) and queer couples in campaign imagery.
  • Link to causes you support in email newsletters or curated content pieces.
  • Engage with your customers on a regular basis to see what they care about beyond your products.
  • Push your company to hire staff and work with freelancers from under-represented groups.
  • Look outside your typical circle for content contributors for posts, webinars, etc.
  • Push back on decisions to ignore social justice movements like Black Lives Matter because they’re “too political” or “might alienate customers.”
  • Read books, watch talks, and listen to podcasts that address diversity, equity, and inclusion.
    — Jason Rodriguez


7. Measure Intention vs. Impact


You should always be cognizant of your messaging if you value diversity in advertising and marketing. The negative impact of a distasteful ad can cost companies billions of dollars and strike consumer confidence in their brand indefinitely. 


Company: Kantar

Following the events of May 2020 and the subsequent rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, we conducted analysis on our Link ad testing database, looking at the representation of different ethnicities and diverse skin colors in advertising. We saw very different levels of inclusion across countries and categories. Once again, we saw that inclusion contributes to long-term equity, by positioning the brand as emotionally different. It can also drive short-term sales by making the content more impactful, helping to drive cut-through.

—Daren Poole


Company: Forbes

  1. Create A Focus Group To Help You Develop Content 

Want to represent a variety of groups? Have people from those groups get involved in developing and reviewing the content you plan to use. You don’t need to guess about what kind of images and language people want. You can use polls, surveys and other review processes to ensure that the groups you are representing relate to and approve of your messaging. – Holly Chessman, GlowTouch Technologies

— Forbes Communications Council

8. Be Mindful of Language and Tone


Marketing professionals handle all sorts of clients and work to fit a company’s unique brand voice, so deals with potential clients can fall flat if you don’t use appropriate language in meetings. 


Company: Forbes

  1. Instill Diversity As A Company Value 

It’s all well and good to proclaim a desire for diversity, but companies need to be careful they aren’t treating it flippantly, because their audience will see right through it. Instilling diversity as a value and solidifying it through an appropriate vision and mission statement will ensure that it’s imbued in a company’s ethos. From there, your marketing will naturally reflect the ethos. 

– Patrick Ward, High Speed Experts

— Forbes Communications Council

9. Speak to Your Audience

If you want to be more considerate of your consumer base, ask for their thoughts.


By posing a quick question on social media, like, “How can we improve diversity in our company?” you can open yourself up for genuine input that aids in the research process.


Company: Forbes

  1. Pick The Right Messenger

If your communication aims to connect with a diverse demographic or subculture, make sure the messenger reflects that target. For example, hire a woman to communicate about women’s issues. I once attended a women’s networking event that featured the male mayor of the city as its keynote speaker. He seemed like a great person, but his take on women in business wasn’t resounding, to say the least! – Mandy Glidewell, CentricsIT

— Forbes Communications Council

Channel Factory Champions Diversity and Inclusion

As the world changes around us, it is vital to keep up with people’s common sentiments and lived experiences. Given the amount of backlash diverse audiences face online and the legacy of insensitivity in advertising, it should be a priority to take a stand to strengthen collective bonds and fix our digital ecosystem.


As an adamant supporter of diversity in marketing, we strive to represent people’s voices.

Contact Channel Factory to optimize your advertising and appropriately meet the needs of your audience.