The Elusiveness of Inclusive Marketing, with Sarah Reynolds


While most SaaS marketers agree on the importance of inclusive marketing, achieving inclusivity is still a work in progress.

In this episode, Sarah Reynolds, CMO of HiBob, chats with Lindsey about the importance of establishing an authentic culture of inclusivity. Sarah also details common oversights and dives into the beautiful fabric that makes today’s diverse customer base — oh, yeah, and something about a little brand called Bud Light.

Make your inclusive marketing actionable and authentic

At the top of the episode, Lindsey asked Sarah how marketers can start creating truly inclusive marketing campaigns today. Their answer? Don’t guess your organization’s culture — speak with HR professionals and employees to determine which causes you should prioritize.

Sarah suggested marketers ask themselves: What employee resource groups (ERGs) does my organization currently have? Can I create a campaign that honors those diversity and inclusivity values?

“You wanna make sure that you’re understanding the baseline for your organization,” said Sarah. “It’s really important that you start to build not just a marketing engine, but a conversation that’s gonna feel authentic to the people who actually work in your company day in and day out.”

Additionally, Sarah said marketers should never capitalize on a social movement that doesn’t reflect their organization’s values. Sure, marketing is often built around timeliness — and it might be tempting to generate content for Black History Month, Pride Month or AAPI Awareness Month — but organizations shouldn’t weigh in with platitudes or empty gestures. For example, if you post a black square to support the Black Lives Matter movement, ensure your year-round content reflects that commitment to racial justice.

For an incredibly recent example of un-inclusive marketing, look no further than Bud Light’s trans pride campaign. Bud Light executives mishandled the campaign’s backlash, Sarah said, and essentially exposed themselves as inauthentic supporters of the trans community.

“[Bud Light] attempted to garner all of the good press. They tried to do the inclusive advertising thing, [but] without a culture of inclusivity, without the accountability,” said Sarah.

Re-examine your brand materials

Once you determine which causes best reflect your organization’s values, ensuring your content is entirely inclusive is important. For example, if you disseminate marketing materials and messages supporting the disabled community, have you provided alt text for your images? Have you eliminated ableist language from your vocabulary, like “crazy” or “mental”?

“There are lots of different opportunities… for you to be more thoughtful and more mindful about the language and imagery that you’re choosing to use and the way that you’re coding your websites,” said Sarah.

Making these changes will signal that you’re not just talking the talk but walking the walk.

Resources to drive inclusivity

Discussing how marketing can be more inclusive and less exploitative for marginalized communities is essential. But actions speak louder than words. Accordingly, we’re sharing several resources Sarah mentioned during today’s episode in the hopes marketers can use them to build a more authentic, inclusive strategy in their organization.

  • An Incomplete Guide to Inclusive Language for Startups and Tech — A guide on inclusive workplace language designed for the Tech industry.
  • Katrina Kibben — Katrina is an HR expert passionate about eliminating bias from job searching. They share many helpful resources for HR leaders looking to hire talent in a better, more inclusive way.
  • Textio blog — Did you know ChatGPT-generated job postings herald gender, race and age bias? Textio’s blog examines these and other AI inclusivity topics. 
  • Accessibility Awareness bot — This account provides daily reminders about important web accessibility features, intending to create a more accessible digital future for all.

Listen to Episode 350 of SaaS Half Full for more of Sarah’s insights.

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