This article is part of a larger series that focuses on diversity and equity in marketing through the empowerment of black and racially diverse writers. As a company, we strive to identify steps we can take in the fight against racism and injustice, and raising BBIPOC votes is paramount to stimulating change. Follow us and read other posts in this series Here.
This post was written by Jada Harland, CEO + Talent Marketer.
From a consumer and recruiting perspective, this was not the case with diversity will important; It was and always is important for the structure of a company’s long-term success.
According to HR Digest, a McKinsey study confirms that “ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to achieve financial returns that are above national industry medians, and gender-based companies are 15% more likely to do the same.” Hundreds of millions of potential customers support a multitude of industries with their money.
Another currency that has become increasingly valuable is engagement. Inclusivity in talent leads to new perspectives, accountability in making better decisions, and endless ideas for content. I ask why the talent that supports a company’s internal structure shouldn’t reflect the customers.
Recruiting is a bittersweet necessity for any business, big or small. The recruiting teams keep the wheels of great talent moving as companies expand, change roles, and create new opportunities. This gives the recruiter exceptional power to move the narrative of their respective company’s diversity agenda. Hence, regardless of what the name looks or sounds like on their resume, what personal preferences or skin color they assume, is a good recruiter to hire the best candidate for the role.
My attitude towards talent is a little different as my role as a talent marketer has been quite an impact, if not focused, on diversity. This job title has grown in popularity in recent years as more jobs realize that recruiting is more than just cold calling and searching through hundreds of résumés. For the most part, we are assigned unicorns to attract, entertain, and persuade in order to join our clients’ organizations or our own businesses.
Hence the The marketing aspect of recruiting is strategic to achieve the goal of promoting increased engagement from a diverse and capable talent pool. And to top it off, I’ve mainly focused on hiring marketing talent.
I should also mention that my role in talent marketing was even more unique as I’m also a black woman in Corporate America where in most companies there are few others who look like me. As a talent marketer, for example, by supporting recruiting efforts, I am often on a team that only has 1 or 2 black recruits out of more than 30 recruits.
When I draw on my experience hiring project managers, copywriters, consultants, contractors, and even executives, you hear and see a lot in the backend of the Recruiting process That makes me hopeful about diversity in the workplace for our future. Some rhetoric makes me proud of the advances made in Corporate America with a real demand for great talent that will change the way the office sees it, while sometimes cringing at disguised and shameful comments about the conversation about diversity or inclusivity.
It is common knowledge that after President Truman’s Executive Order 9981 in 1948 Diversity in the armed forces would make change, but business initiative has been painfully slow until well into the last few years since the 1960s.
Marketing teams are leaders
As a talent marketer, I have had the pleasure of focusing on marketers who I see as a gateway for change. Marketing and advertising teams are hired to manage half of the business. Your half of the business is mostly focused on demand and ongoing engagement. The content created by the marketing team guides the conversation about a brand and the customer’s interactions.
Over the past year, the Black Lives Matter movement has uncovered nasty issues in our personal lives, but also in the workplace. Many companies tried to make the conscious choice to find out who their customers were and how they were affected. This resulted in new campaigns being produced, companies rushing to hire more diverse talent so as not to be part of the problem, and even expressing their political views on social platforms.
These efforts were driven by marketing teams who suddenly faced the struggles of their peers and consumers. In the face of the BLM movement, it was impossible to ignore Corporate America’s lack of empathy, and many companies acted quickly, which led to the understanding that representation in and out of the office is important. This is one of the reasons why it is important to have diverse marketing teams and marketing leaders. Experiencing the impact of marketing on the social constructs of our world means that the more people we all look and think, the more changes we will see.
While different marketing teams make great strides toward change, marketing teams that lack diversity can make big mistakes. We all saw that epic failure of H&M and their campaign for a new line of clothing featuring black children wearing monkey shirts. This caused an uproar and H&M made efforts to recover. Same goes for Dove under Unilever with their campaign where a black woman takes off her brown shirt to be replaced by a white woman in a white shirt or the skincare brand Nivea and even Pepsi. All of them could have been avoided and millions of dollars saved on awful content if they had a more diverse team talking about these topics.
Diverse talents are abundant
In my role, I deal with talent 70% of the time. I was on the agency and customer side. Unfortunately, talking about diversity when dealing with customer hiring is complex for several reasons.
First and foremost, the lack of access leads to a lack of diversity. As a recruiter and a marketer attracting talent, the data shows the talent is out there, but changes need to be made. Job descriptions should describe the role, but leave room for individual experiences.
For example, if a role requires that a candidate be experienced in “creative assignments” and have all the tools necessary to get the job done, it means that their experience working on other material outside of “White America” does not exist helpful to expand the scope of the projects for your company? We are aware that there is something that is called “black brands” or “pop culture”.
This gap exists because most brands exclude people of color. If I have a talented graphic designer who has worked primarily with “black brands” and whose work reflects the hair textures or ideologies of black culture, their work should be valued as much as their white counterparts.
Unfortunately, such talents are often overlooked and classified as “too urban” or “not culturally appropriate”. We recycle the same content instead of reflecting the reality of society. We all have a story and we have the right to share it authentically. It is harmful to value one’s life experience.
However, this isn’t the only way Corporate America is moving so slowly when it comes to creating more diverse teams. When searching for talent for a job posting, we make an admission call that starts with an idea of “revolutionary talent”. Ultimately, however, the search changes when the company looks again for candidates who have always existed, white and white male with the same prospects.
Another point is that tThe pay gap still persists, and it’s daunting to speak to a talented marketer who is hired at a lower salary and takes much longer than his peers to hit a certain salary threshold. As we prepare for a fairer future, companies will have to go back to the drawing board. The previous two problems prove that finding more diverse candidates was an idea, not an action plan for diversity or inclusivity.
How As a black professional and as a recruiter, I’ve learned that a good job is not just based on your results, but also on the vision of the client or the hiring party. Internal conflicts over diversity and inclusion need to be approached from top to bottom, similar to legislation.
We lead by example. Since the ideology behind talent marketing is to identify, create, and encourage high-profile talent to be interested in the roles of the company, we need to set the tone. The resources we use for recruiting change depending on our search. In this case, we also need to change our perspective. The diversity we are looking for is not hidden. Choice is change. This responsibility leaves us all open to the question, Corporate America, what are we working on and are we really taking it seriously?
Jada Harland is a trailblazer. She spent 5 years in talent marketing working with Fortune 500 companies to hire the best of marketing professionals from specialists to CMOs.
Her recruiting experience has opened doors to work on the diversity of some of the biggest brands. She now owns her own online clothing store Nastasia.co and works with her other business ventures along with her husband. She continues her skills in social media, copywriting, website creation and recruiting on a contractual basis. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her growing family, traveling, and learning about history and astronomy.
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CM Group is a family of global marketing technology brands including Campaign Monitor, CM Commerce, Delivra, Emma, Liveclicker, Sailthru, and Vuture. By bringing together these leading brands, CM Group offers a variety of world-class solutions that can be used by marketers at any level. CM Group is headquartered in Nashville, TN, and has US offices in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh and San Francisco, and offices in Australia, London, New Zealand and Uruguay.