More global, more social, more diverse. Increasingly mobile and always-on. The pace of change in today’s digital world can make us feel disconnected and anxious, making deep emotional ties both rare and precious. And yet it is these emotional connections that help brands to stand the test of time.
In our digital era, every brand message acts as a human-to-human conversation, regardless of what platform it’s consumed on. Brands must reinvent their marketing to deliver emotional resonance. This is not just for consumers but for business partners as well. Doing so demands a deliberate and disciplined approach informed by perspectives that reflect a varied customer base – making diversity and inclusion (D&I) a prerequisite to any successful transformation effort.
67% of active and passive job seekers consider a company’s diverse workforce a major factor in evaluating prospective employers
While advancing D&I is unarguably the right thing to do, it is also increasingly becoming a business imperative for global competitiveness. Manpower reports that one-third of global employers experience difficulty filling jobs. Adding to the impetus for diversity in recruitment, Glassdoor found that 67 percent of active and passive job seekers consider a company’s diverse workforce a major factor in evaluating prospective employers. Faced with a shortage of skilled workers, companies in Silicon Valley and beyond understand the necessity of looking far beyond their usual pool of talent.
As we have embarked on our reinvention journey at HP, we have pushed to have D&I be more than simply a moral imperative; we are baking it into the DNA of our organisation. Data shows that D&I leads to more innovation, better creative work and stronger results. Simply put, if we aren’t inclusive how do we hope to ever authentically understand the customers we serve? We must make every effort to walk in the shoes of our customers to ensure their voices are present at the table.
So how is this accomplished? Look around you. Do most people in your group, department, company or industry look like you? If so, it’s time to define a new talent bar and expand your horizons. Recruit from diverse schools, actively search for underrepresented candidates and create programs to attract and retain diverse talent. Actively expand the global proficiency of your leadership team so they can better connect with and represent your various audiences.
At HP, we are building a more inclusive culture by providing our leadership and, most importantly, our hiring managers with unconscious bias training. We’re using technology to eliminate biased language in our job listings and giving underrepresented current employees a voice, ultimately resulting in opportunities for advancement at all levels of the organisation.
To reach a more diverse talent pool, HP recently launched a recruiting effort with a clear and simple message: HP is hiring, and talent is our only criteria. Our first spot featured the African American community and results speak for themselves, with an uptick in diverse candidate resumes, invitations to speak at Harvard and Howard University, and strong business school engagement with our recruiting and mentorship programs.
Dads and Daughters, the second spot, addresses the biases women face during the interview process. As a father to five daughters, I am profoundly grateful to represent a company that addresses these tough issues head-on. HP’s commitment to ensuring the next generation of women in the workforce have the same opportunities as their male counterparts fills me with great pride.
I challenge each of you to influence others in your ecosystem to be more aggressive with their own D&I efforts, and to encourage your partners to meet your own D&I standards. Demand your advertising and PR agency partners submit a plan laying out how they will increase the number of women and minorities in key creative and strategy roles. Join others, such as PwC’s chief executive Action for Diversity and Inclusion, to work alongside the most progressive organisations in the world to address diversity. Contribute to, volunteer or start initiatives to support underrepresented groups in your industry – such as Free the Bid, which aims to increase the number of female directors in advertising by pledging to give one in three competitive bids to a female director.
Reinvention is hard. Success depends on becoming more insight-driven and emotionally resonant—which emanates from a highly inclusive and diverse workforce. It’s working for HP – we are worth 30 percent more today than we were 18 months ago. This is tangible proof that forging emotional connections through perceptive, you-understand-me moments makes a difference to the bottom line. Creating an environment where unique perspectives are actively sought and celebrated will serve to power an innovative future.
Antonio Lucio is one of the chief marketing officers speaking at Wake Up with The Economist at Cannes Lions Beach Club during 19-23 June