Why diversity and inclusion strategies must start with insight
Mention the word ‘diversity’ to most people and their default thinking is around the makeup of workforces. That’s a good start, but if you’re a brand or a broadcaster, then you also have to think about the makeup of the people you serve: your audience or customers.
The challenge for the UK’s broadcasters, which include Channel 4, ITV, Sky, Viacom (owners of Channel 5) and the BBC, is to make steps towards a fairer and more diverse workforce (think #genderpaygap and #metoo) but also to stay relevant to a modern British society that is now more diverse than ever.
When it comes to advertising, the research is startling. Recent research conducted highlighted that there are twice as many male characters as their are female ones in advertisements, and 25% of ads feature men only compared to just 5% of ads that feature women only.
In addition, women appearing in adverts are generally in their 20s, but men appear in their 20s, 30s and 40s. One in 10 female characters are also shown in sexually revealing clothing. Women are also more likely to be shown in the kitchen.
But it’s not just advertising that is under the spotlight. The content being produced by broadcasters and media businesses is also being scrutinised to understand portrayal and representation.
Broadcasters are now asking questions to understand what diversity and inclusion actually mean to diverse audiences, and how representation (the amount of airtime given to members of specific groups) and portrayal (the ways in which members of these groups are depicted - more or less stereotypically) can be improved. Findings are shared with their content producers and media partners to diffuse and embed lessons.
Recent work that Versiti conducted for Channel 4 sought to understand how best to reflect the diversity of modern Britain in programming and to develop metrics to track the progress Channel 4 makes in its representation and portrayal of diversity.
What we found, among other things, was that across diverse groups, people do not want Channel 4 to pursue ‘niche’ programming. Instead, they want to see authentic portrayals, both of their groups and of others, integrated in the mainstream. This may seem obvious, but it challenged many of the assumptions held by Channel 4, an established leader in diversity and inclusion.
Inclusion and diversity strategies such as those launched by Channel 4 are required to help guide the organisation, demonstrate (publicly) what steps they are being taking and how, in some cases, taxpayers money is being allocated. They can also be used to guide agencies and brands through the creative process to ensure that diversity and inclusion is a key consideration from the get-go for all partners in the supply chain.
Like with any good strategy, a good inclusion and diversity strategy requires an in-depth understanding of the audiences’ needs, wants and perceptions, which is where Versiti come in. Diving deep into the mindset, as well as the attitudes and behaviours, of people whose voices have historically not been heard and whose experiences are often negated even today, requires an understanding of how the past impacts on the present, and on how others shape individual opinions. Versiti’s team of social psychologists and sociologists, with their wealth of experience and expertise specifically in working with rarely heard communities, brings that depth of understanding. This is why we often unlock insights others don’t.
If you’d like to find out more about how Versiti can help you know your audience better and develop grounded inclusion and diversity strategies, please email or call us.