Led by moderator Cleveland Spears III, a panel of local field leaders spoke on building inclusive brands in a recent webinar for the New Orleans Chapter of the American Marketing Association. 

There is a hard business case for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion increasing profitability, the panel agreed. “Consumers want brands not just to speak up about social issues in posts or advertisements, but to live their values,” explained marketing researcher Sondra Brown, founder and president of MDRG.

Kelli Saluny, the Director of Strategic Partnerships for Camelback Ventures says DEI is the best business case for the job market moving forward in terms of the talent pool you want to attract and the cost of high turnover within your company. “It isn’t just the moral imperative, there is money at stake if you don’t take this seriously,” she said. “We must be fully cognizant of not implementing race-neutral policies and practices to race-based problems.”

Hillary Davis, director of regional diversity and inclusion for Ochsner Health added, “Inclusivity is really about valuing the people that you have and showing that and integrating that into your policies and cultural observances.” Along with being a good corporate citizen in the communities where you are located, Hillary encourages companies evaluate their hiring practices, the inclusivity of their job listings and the diversity of the questions asked to ensure they are building an equitable workforce.

“Multicultural is mainstream now,” AnaMaria Bech of VIVA NOLA Magazine said. She cautioned that media entities should establish strong partnerships within their communities and support those they are trying to include to ensure they connect correctly and don’t the mark.

Moderator Spears explained that if there is not enough diversity in the room, and the inclusivity to make everyone feel safe speaking up at every level of the branding process, efforts will miss the mark. “There are hundreds of years of cultures that must be un-learned in society and our industry, it will take courage and intentionality from those in decision making seats to integrate diversity into our industry.”

To hear more from our panel analyzing campaigns that missed the mark, and other tactics for successful DEI branding, join our AMA NOLA Chapter and you’ll receive an email with all of our 2020/2021 webinar recordings. Learn more about the incredible membership benefits here. (If you’re already a member—YAY! You should have received the webinar recordings via email—if not—email president@amaneworleans.com.)

By Olivia Morgan, Fund Development Coordinator at Culture Aid Nola.