I wanted to share the story and vision behind the newest MRKTNG Magazine as it is an excellent example of diversity leadership. Having diversity in positions of your organization where they are empowered and able to make decisions allows and enables them to make an impact. It is a topic that touches us globally, which is why I did not want to do this video only in Finnish but in English.
As we were brainstorming ideas for the new MRKTNG Magazines cover picture, the Marketing Finland team sat down to brainstorm – to throw ideas openly around the topic of the magazine, which was ACTIONS. We were thinking and thinking and thinking until we hit a point in which we decided that we just needed a lunch break to get some air and to take a step back to look at this from a different perspective. As we were sitting down for lunch at the office, one of our other colleagues walked in. So, I decided to ask her point of view and feedback on the ideas we had listed down so far. Soon the conversation took a turn and went around personal experiences on social challenges such as diversity – a topic which is extremely close to my heart as I am a representative of a minority group. Thus, as different personal stories and new ideas from those experiences came to my mind, I admit that for a second, I had to think about if I wanted to share something so personal that involves many emotions with everyone. Besides, I wondered if this was something too apparent to say because social issues on diversity have been on the surface. Shockingly, to my surprise, people had not realized the dominance of the western beauty image that was and still is controlling the marketing industry. Thus, we should am to acknowledge the lack of diversity and diverse perspectives in the times and places where it matters. For us to break prejudice and stereotypes, we must increase diverse cooperative actions that lead to successful outcomes of reducing intergroup bias by cutting the social groups. But I want to pinpoint at this point, that diversity is so much more than gender or race. And as the world is getting more diverse, the spectrum of diversity is broadening.
PAINTING THE BIG PICTURE
Advertising is a powerful driver to change perceptions and impact social norms. And as I see its little things, and mainly actions paint the big picture. What message are we sending, and telling to society? How does it impact, and influence the culture now and in the long term?
People see approximately 5,000+ ads per day. These ads reflect and have a significant impact on how and what kind of characteristics we empower. Because stereotypes systematically affect how people perceive, process information about, and respond to group members the association and beliefs about the features and attributes of a group and its members that we transmit through socialization, media, language, and pictures shape how people think about and respond to groups. If we only show powerful African descendent as having straight hair and pointier nose, or lighter skin, what is this going to do to our society? What are the longer-term implications and effects?
This past month or two, I have been seeking out dialogues with all sorts of people to discuss what expectations and hopes they have for companies - now and in the future.
61% of the people agree that it has become more important that brands make a positive impact on society54& of people agree that it is easier to get brands to address social problems than to get governments to take action.
My personal expectations are that we must bring the awareness of the issues to the center of the business by increasing diversity leadership and bringing the representative of minority groups etc. to the place where decisions are made, and where the change is needed.
We cannot only concentrate on economic sustainability or environmental sustainability, but we also have to take into consideration social sustainability. I would like to challenge the organization's role in our society and the definition of business – we should not concentrate on measuring business success on only the economic level based on the description of the business to produce products and services for profit. In my futuristic view, I would like to hope companies driving for social and environmental performance factors to define business success on three levels; people, planet, and the profit instead of focusing only on the profits.
For MRKTNG Day, I also got the idea to ask and hear people's own promises of doing good in the future. My first personal promise is the same as Belinda J Smith – I aim to be braver to represent, who I am, the values that I carry, and the personal experiences of stereotypes, diversity, discrimination, and prejudice. This is not as easy as some people could expect. There is a psychological challenge involved that many might not take into consideration, such as tokenism and stereotype threat. Stereotype threat occurs when a person is worried about behaving in a way that confirms negative stereotypes about members of their group. This added stress can end up impacting how they actually perform in a particular situation as the representative of a minority group feels particularly vulnerable to being stereotyped by others. This occurs especially when the individual is the only member of their group in the situation. Tokens experience high levels of self-consciousness and threat, which reduces their ability to think and act productively.
For a few years now, I have pushed myself to reduce the use of makeup. Thus, I have thrived on going out and represent the natural me, show that it is okay to look the way you are or feel. For example, it is easy to put on some makeup to cover the dark eyelids, but why do so many people like they can’t look the part? This is one personal way for me to try and break stereotypes through everyday actions and decisions. Eventually, by making these small changes, I hope I can push against the social norms and pressure and maybe even impact the people around me. Groups have power, and power is required for change to happen.
This is also why I wanted to share this video and this example of the creative process to showcase the importance of personal experiences in such topics as diversity: there are daily challenges and situation that affect us, and it is hard for us to see these things if it does not change us. With my everyday actions, I want to personally affect the lack of knowledge of other groups to increase empathy and awareness.
We are incredibly excited about this first podcast, and there is much more to come. In the future, we will dive more into such topics as; diversity, discrimination, and prejudice, how stereotypes affect our daily lives, how this shows in an organization, why and what leaders should take into consideration and be aware of in terms of social psychology. Understanding such topics is crucial when it comes to increasing diversity or creating a cohesive and productive work environment, in which people can reach their full potential.
Give us some feedback and share your ideas. We would love to hear what you think about all of this and your take on this topic. We are also glad to take in ideas for future discussion.
More about the project, including a link to a podcast that dives more into this topic, on the project site.