Inclusive communications start within
Diversity, inclusivity and representation have rightly been business-critical points on the agendas of industry leaders over recent months.
PrettyGreen on why and how the beauty industry is making positive strides to becoming more inclusive.
It’s positive to see this discussion happening across all sectors and all levels of our industry. But as with any long-term change, we cannot expect to rectify years of damage overnight. As well as conversation at all levels, we need action. Otherwise, there’s a risk of the good intentions around D&I becoming a self-serving PR stunt.
How to make sure our D&I commitments make a positive difference
Delivering diverse, inclusive, creative communications must start with an agency's operations. We must ensure that we have a team and partners that represent the public; an inclusive mindset; and no unconscious bias.
To deliver meaningful campaigns that better connect with all audiences we need to embrace diverse thinking across every aspect of the agency from recruitment, training, strategy and creative output.
We set up an internal Diversity & Inclusivity committee in Spring 2020 with ‘actions not words’ reviewing pay-gaps, recruitment processes, client behaviors, partners, targets and training.
We worked with an external inclusivity consultant to make changes that enabled us to become the top-scoring agency in PR Week’s Pay Gap Project and secure The Blueprint diversity status. We’re at an early stage in our journey and our D&I program has highlighted important learning and development opportunities that we will need to focus on to maintain and continue driving proactive and positive change.
We knew we needed to think differently to unearth the brilliant minds from underrepresented groups. We now only work with recruitment companies who have a strong D&I policy and in March 2021, committed to a D&I specialist, Hidden.io.
Hiring diversely and inclusively requires re-considering the entire process, from talent pooling and employer brand to interviews and inclusion designs. We now have an inclusive interview processs and blind profile to remove potential D&I bias. We are making progress with 26% of our workforce identify as non-white (up from 14% in 2019,) but more needs to be done.
Agencies and brands must invest more in hiring diverse minds into the industry. One way to do this is by supporting charities and initiatives such as One Percent, Brixton Finishing School, Taylor Bennett Foundation and People Like Us, which exist to train and support fresh talent.
We also need to think beyond our workforce and create inclusive policies for everything from media and influencer recruitment to creative partners, producers and content creators. Only then can we ensure that campaign outputs are authentically engaging with our culturally rich population.
How internal changes can create more inclusive campaign
These internal changes have contributed to us creating more inclusive campaigns for our clients.
One of these was for haircare brand Pantene, which wants to give more people greater hair days, because hair is always more than 'just hair'. The brand is committed to eliminating hair-related discrimination and ensuring everyone has a chance to express their true self through their hair, whatever their hair type, gender identity, ethnicity or age and without any social or cultural bias getting in their way. The brand also adopts an internal-first approach to D&I and extends its commitment beyond marketing through its product ranges and packaging.
Recent Pantene hair discrimination campaigns have tackled racism, ageism, sexuality and visual impairment driving awareness and impact at community level, but also within the wider hair and beauty industry.
When agencies and brands embrace diverse thinking and act, the campaigns drive change. To ensure these campaigns are authentic and representative, Pantene and its agency team's partnered with creatives, producers and content creators who are themselves from the under-represented groups.
The haircare brand is focused on paving the way for greater accessibility in hair and beauty industry so it's an inclusive space for all with the latest campaign featuring hair and beauty-loving blind BBC Broadcaster, TikTokker and disability activist, Lucy Edwards, who is also an ambassador for Pantene’s Silky & Glowing product range.
Pantene has launched a new social code of conduct, making social content like beauty tutorials accessible for all. It's also bringing revolutionary Navilens technology, especially designed for blind and partially sighted people, into high street stores to enhance the product experience for the visually impaired in partnership with the RNIB.
Our industry is making positive strides to be more inclusive; this is just the start. We need to make diversity, inclusivity and representation a daily priority to ensure we continue making meaningful progress. We have a unique ability to influence public perception and drive positive behaviour change. But the change will only be permanent if we start by making the change within.
Kate Gard, business director at PrettyGreen.
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