How Marketing Can Lead Diversity and Inclusion

As social unrest mounts in the U.S. and worldwide, marketers must make sure their brands strongly support diversity and inclusion.

Society is becoming acutely aware of systemic racism, inequality and issues of diversity and inclusion. Movements such as Black Lives Matter (BLM) have gained widespread public support. Marketers are at the frontline of the discussion. They not only serve as the voice of the brand but also bring the voice of consumers and society back into the organization.

Gartner research reveals that consumers seek diversity and inclusion (D&I) information for brands online and may decide not to purchase based on their search. In a Gartner survey in June, consumers said they expected brands to respond to the BLM protests by implementing internal diversity and communicating the organization’s support for the movement.

“The interest that consumers have about a company’s D&I efforts reflects wider expectations customers have of a brand and its values,” says Jay Wilson, VP Analyst, Gartner.

Diversity and inclusion boost business success

Diversity refers to the traits and characteristics that make people unique, whereas inclusion means the behaviors and social norms within the workplace that make people feel welcome. The combination of these two allows the exchange of different perspectives, experiences and ideas. Everyone feels that they can contribute to the decisions that shape the direction of the organization. In fact, studies show that diverse teams make better decisions than non-diverse teams.

A commitment to diversity and inclusion makes sound business sense. Through 2022, 75% of organizations with frontline decision-making teams who reflect diversity and an inclusive culture will exceed their financial targets, according to Gartner research.

Read more: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Resource Center

Marketing leaders need to respond effectively to social movements from a diversity and inclusion perspective. Here are three key practices to adopt:

1. Listen to what consumers are saying

Consumer sentiment is variable, so keep your finger on the pulse. Gartner research shows that now is a time of heightened vigilance on several fronts, of which racial tension is just one. Companies and brands that make positive changes to support equality, diversity and inclusion are in alignment with a majority of consumers. Understand which social movements are of importance to your customers and employees. This can help you communicate with them in a relevant way.

2. Show the human face of the brand

Consumer sentiment is variable, so keep your finger on the pulse. Gartner research shows that now is a time of heightened vigilance on several fronts, of which racial tension is just one. Companies and brands that make positive changes to support equality, diversity and inclusion are in alignment with a majority of consumers. Understand which social movements are of importance to your customers and employees. This can help you communicate with them in a relevant way.

3. Say or do something

Brands that speak up or take action on social issues usually score better with consumers than those that don’t. But it’s important to know what to say and when and how to say it. Be specific about the actions your company is taking. One place to start self-evaluation is within the marketing organization itself. Many organizations may be advanced, with robust diversity programs or diverse workforces. Others may be at an intermediate or beginner level and should focus on internal progress before going out to the public. 


The time is now for marketing leaders to become D&I leaders. As society itself becomes more multicultural and diverse, support for social movements will continue to grow. This is an opportunity for marketers to strengthen their organizations by emphasizing the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.