Business leaders have an ethical and financial responsibility to make sure the part of the organization responsible for sustained growth–the marketing department–is well represented at all levels.
Diversity isn’t just a matter of social justice and cultural progress. It has a direct, meaningful and measurable impact on business effectiveness. Companies with a diverse staff led by professionals found through women and minority marketing search firms enjoy significantly higher earnings and returns on equity than their homogenous counterparts.
Diversity in Marketing Delivers a Variety of Advantages
Instead of all thinking alike and coming up with the same solutions to the same issues – perhaps not always the best ones – we can bring real value, creativity and innovation – and the best solution – to each new situation – Jorge Caballero, Deloitte Tax
- Serving diversifying markets. Buying power is becoming more and more fragmented, spread among genders, races, generations and more. Consumers are also increasingly fragmented across subcultures, niche interests, new channels and more. If your marketing operations are stocked with professionals that look alike, are from the same place, and have similar experiences and interests, you can’t expect them to effectively engage your diversifying audience. There’s a reason, for instance, that marketers are struggling to make effective ads for Millennials and senior women. It probably has to do with the fact that the businesses reaching them don’t have the right representation in place when making decisions on how to cater messages to these groups. That’s an especially critical shortcoming in the B2C sector, where women control or influence 70-80% of consumer purchasing decisions.
- Retention of top performers. Ambitious, high-performing women working in an organization with an actual or perceived glass ceiling will look elsewhere for career growth rather than staying with you and producing excellent work.
- Improving adaptability. The world is changing faster than ever. Some businesses are better than other at keeping up. The organizations best equipped to anticipate coming changes and evolve alongside them are the ones with a variety of perspectives and experiences. “Instead of all thinking alike and coming up with the same solutions to the same issues – perhaps not always the best ones – we can bring real value, creativity and innovation – and the best solution – to each new situation,” says Jorge Caballero of Deloitte Tax for a Forbes report on the business value of diversity.
- Enhanced reputation and brand image. Gender equality in the workplace is becoming a more and more prominent social issue. Organizations that are able to earn a reputation as being an environment that encourages and rewards women are often rewarded with publicity and good will that reflect favorably on your brand. On the other hand, notoriety for inequality can have the opposite effect.
Including Your Interim Marketing Workforce Solutions in Gender Diversity Considerations
The non-traditional workforce is growing quickly. Marketing is no stranger to “alternative” work arrangements; organizations have long leveraged contract marketing staffing, freelancers, interim executives and consultants to gain access to the capacity and expertise they need. But these talent pools are frequently overlooked when it comes to considering diversity and enforcing relevant workforce policies.
Contracted and temporary talent solutions typically aren’t factored into a business’s employment demographic statistics, and perhaps rightfully so. But that doesn’t mean that marketing leaders can afford to disregard the makeup of their flexible marketing workforce solutions. Here’s why you should strive for gender diversity in your staffing and freelancers as much as your full-time team:
- Improving the quality of your marketing production: A diverse interim marketing staff brings most of the benefits listed earlier: better nimbleness, a constant source of fresh, innovative ideas, and a greater ability to retain your brand contractors as long as you need them and bring them back in the future.
- Nurturing a culture of innovation: Though they’re not a part of your full-time staff, your flexible workforce can absolutely influence your workplace and corporate culture–especially if you’re making use of marketing staffing that works in-house. Read more on this topic here.
- Showing commitment: It’s one thing to claim you support gender diversity in your workplace. But if the contract talent you rely on doesn’t reflect that ideal, then your own employees (and potentially the public) might take notice. And don’t expect them to make the distinction between full-time staff and interim talent.
How to Foster Gender Diversity
Be honest. When you look at your roster of full-time and interim marketing professionals, does it have appropriate diversity to foster parity in your organization and strengthen your business? If not, it’s time to take action. As Neil Lenane, Business Leader of Talent Management for Progressive said in an interview, “If you do not intentionally include, you unintentionally exclude.”
- Start at the top. While some 41% of marketers early in their career are women, only about one in four marketing executive positions are filled by a woman. Filling key marketing executive jobs in your organization with experienced, effective woman marketing leaders sets a standard of equality throughout the department. Consider working with marketing search firms that specialize in woman and minority executive search to get your needs met.
- Audit internal and third party recruitment and staffing standards. Most companies attempt to actively recruit talent from underrepresented groups–or at least, they say they do. But less than half require a diverse slate of candidates for open positions, according to a report by McKinsey and Company. Here at MarketPro we’ve made it a standard practice to bring our clients at least one woman and one individual from a minority group for all of our searches. But that’s not because we’re required to by our clients–it’s because it gives them the best odds of selecting the right person for the job.
- Improve transparency on compensation standards, promotion decisions, and hiring statistics. Marketers thrive on data; don’t hide it away from them. This will enable your team to realize the true value of their work and identify apparent gaps that may or may not be justifiable.
Diversity among genders and other factors in the marketing department won’t just happen overnight. It’s a goal that requires intentional dedication and a broad strategy spanning from internal policies to external recruitment standards. But the rewards will be great for the organizations who are able to achieve it.