Friday, Jun 24, 2022

Inclusive Language in Marketing Isn’t Just Important — It’s Essential

Once, inclusive language was thought to be a luxury for businesses and their communications. Today, it’s essential. And going forward, it’s..

Group having a meeting at a table

Once, inclusive language was thought to be a luxury for businesses and their communications. Today, it’s essential. And going forward, it’s professional malpractice if marketers aren’t being intentional about inclusive language and urging their internal and external communications colleagues to do it as well.

If your brand and its marketing don’t convey a sense of inclusivity by respecting and reflecting a broad range of perspectives and identities, it may not have a place in tomorrow’s business world. Consumers (and employees) have more voice – and more choice – than they’ve ever had. Data consistently tells us that those audiences expect marketing and engagement to be more inclusive and representative.

Building a diverse and inclusive culture is an utmost priority for every company and marketing department today. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to serve as the instructor for a new LinkedIn Learning course, Diversity and Inclusion in Marketing: Inclusive Language for Marketers. 

Here’s why the contents of the course are so important at this moment in time.

Representation Matters in Marketing

One of the greatest mistakes marketers make is turning on their open for business sign and not putting out the welcome mat. For diverse audiences, if we don’t see ourselves and our culture reflected in the images and language in your marketing, we don’t know if your brand wants us around. 

Why is this more important than ever? Two simple words: demographic trends. Emerging generations are the most diverse in American history, across a wide range of identity traits — race, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual orientation. Orienting your marketing language toward the same narrow audience runs the risk of shrinking your total audience over time, and excluding a sizable swath of potential customers. Here’s why that mistake is professional malpractice.

The Business Case for an Inclusion as a Core Value

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) impacts the bottom line and marketing results. That’s true today and it’ll be more true as time passes. Consider these statistics:

  • 75% of Gen Z consumers say they’ll boycott companies that discriminate against race and sexuality across advertisement campaigns. (McKinsey & Co.)
  • More than 4 in 5 buyers say they would rather buy from a more diverse sales organization than a less diverse organization with equal offerings. (LinkedIn State of Sales 2021)
  • 83% of millennial employees are actively engaged when they believe their organization fosters an inclusive culture, while only 60 percent are actively engaged when their organization does not. (Deloitte)
  • Two-thirds of women will skip ads if they feel the ads negatively stereotype women. (Marketing Week)
  • In 2019, a survey found that 64% of all respondents took some action after seeing an ad they considered to be diverse or inclusive. (Google & The Female Quotient)
  • By 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be made up of millennials--one of the most racially and ethnically diverse generations in US history. (Inc.)

Inclusion Requires Extra Effort

If you feel like certain words, phrases, or references are now frowned upon that were not 10 years ago — you’re right. Society and our understanding and use of language is constantly evolving. Inclusion in culture and language requires EXTRA EFFORT, and mistakes will be made in our attempts to get it right. The goal is to make fewer mistakes and to catch as many as possible before they hurt people and your brand reputation. And when they do happen, we learn from them and build enough rigor to never make the same one twice. 

In our learning course, I share a number of specific examples of common non-inclusive terms along with recommended alternatives. This can help provide some nuance and direction to guide your team. But as we explain, the most crucial thing is to listen to your stakeholders — customers, employees, business partners, etc. — to recognize how language impacts them and establish your own best practices.

Understanding core concepts like hidden bias, invisible forms of discrimination, and the distinct nuance of diversity within diversity will be helpful as your organizations charts a path forward toward an inclusive future. 

Our new LinkedIn Learning course covers all of this and much more. I hope you’ll join me and we can play a small part in supporting your journey.

For more inclusive marketing tips, subscribe to the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog.


By: Andrew McCaskill
Title: Inclusive Language in Marketing Isn’t Just Important — It’s Essential
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Published Date: Tue, 28 Sep 2021 06:45:00 -0700

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