DEI + Culture
Can marketing be a force for good? It’s up to marketers.
Our world is changing, and so is our consciousness. As individuals, the Great Pause in 2020 gave us space to reflect on our place in society and the contributions we’ve made—for better or for worse. This time has tested businesses in a similar way, forcing us to recognize that work life and personal life can coexist, and that organizational values and societal contributions are more important to both consumers and employees than ever before.
The marketing industry, which has long set the pace for cultural trends, hasn’t been spared this self-examination. Often the conduit to the latest dance craze, the next great musician or the hottest fad diet, marketing has many times been affiliated with shallow, profit-motivated contributions to society. But the days of marketing from a brand-centric, less-than-socially-conscious point of view are long gone. The tide has been turning for a while, and recent events have accelerated the shift.
The Black Lives Matter movement is an important example. People are demanding action from brands and from their employers. In our own industry, many are examining their role in affecting change and how to place intent and action around meaningful diversity, equity and inclusion. This is all part of a necessary evolution toward even more socially conscious branding and marketing.
But while this is positive momentum, there’s much work still to be done. People want to see the brands they trust take purposeful action to advance society—and employees are demanding the same from their employers.
According to Deloitte, “Purpose-driven companies witness higher market share gains and grow three times faster on average than their competitors, all while achieving higher workforce and customer satisfaction.” But these statistics, in and of themselves, lack a conscious perspective:
To succeed as a socially conscious brand, we need to measure both our bottom-line growth and our societal impact.
So I pose this question to my fellow agency leaders and business colleagues: How can we lead our businesses on the journey of socially conscious branding and marketing for good? Here are three things Dixon Schwabl is focusing on as we examine ways to make a more meaningful impact through our work.
What and who do you stand for? Why are you doing what you’re doing and how does it make life better for those you work with and for? Answering these questions can start you down the path to defining your purpose.
Setting intentions and being accountable.
Once your purpose is clear, how will you deliver on it? How will you know that real change has happened? What are your leading and the lagging indicators? Who will hold you accountable to the change? No plan is complete without a clear way to measure effectiveness. As you determine what changes you’ll make, be sure to establish SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound—goals that can be easily tracked.
Go it together.
We don’t even begin to pretend we have the answers. Our best movements come from our people and our partners. Inclusivity starts and ends with the group you bring in to solve the challenge.
As we move through our next phase of evolution as a company, we’re dialed into the foundation that was set at our inception and that has threaded its way through our life as a business. We’re here for doing good, making an impact and being better. Otherwise, why are we here at all?
Kim puts our people front and center, building on empathy and quick decision-making that have served her teams well. She started her career at Mower and soon found her home with DS+CO, where she led our public relations team and expanded her skillset into consumer, B2B, telecom and human services. In 2020, she took the helm, guiding our agency into a new era. She’s a Forty Under 40 and ATHENA Young Professional, is DEI certified, and sits on the boards of the American Heart Association of NY, Mercy Flight Central, Alfred University and the RIT Advertising & Marketing Program.