Creating brand value with diversity and inclusion
In The Bahamas, a country that’s largely homogenous as it relates to race, ethnicity and even religion, the conversation around diversity in the workplace — one that’s been prominent in international markets for some time now — can feel a bit immaterial.
Diversity and inclusion have been at the forefront of discussions across the globe in recent years, based on the underlying belief that companies should strive to properly represent the diversity present within the general population. And it’s easy in The Bahamas to fall into the trap of thinking that’s already happening, but that’s far from the truth. Local businesses often don’t think about inclusiveness and there's little in the way of policy or advocacy to force them to.
In 2023, entire groups of The Bahamas’ population are regularly excluded when it comes to representation, both in external branding, marketing and communications, and in internal practices. Members of the LGBTQ community, migrants, and people with disabilities are just a few examples of the groups that aren’t regularly and adequately represented or marketed to locally.
Gen Z consumers support companies they believe in
Some will wonder why it matters. But aside from the obvious underlying principle of striving for inclusivity and representation just for the sake of it, so that people of all backgrounds feel integrated and valued, there are also clear benefits to adopting this value for businesses and their branding.
Depending on the product, through greater emphasis on diversity and inclusivity, there’s potential to reach underserved markets without significant investments. Now more than ever, consumers are looking to support companies with values they believe in. Gen Z, already well-known for their proclivity for disrupting the status quo, cares more about this than any generation before them. Ignoring the clear preference of younger adults to support brands that believe in the right things would be a mistake.
Including LGBT and the disabled shows real inclusiveness
So, though it may seem right now like a trivial matter, one the competition and consumers don’t care about, taking the steps today to focus on greater representation in marketing and communication material is a surefire way to bolster a brand’s reputation as one that’s modern, progressive, and caring. Showing LGBTQ couples and people with disabilities in ads and making videos available with closed captions or translations to other commonly spoken languages in The Bahamas are some easy ways to do this.
Walk the talk of your core values
But it’s not just about what’s said and shown; companies also need to “walk the talk” by demonstrating a true commitment to these values. Inclusivity is about more than having the right faces in advertisements and marketing material. It also means taking into account the unique challenges and needs of those who are in the minority in Bahamian society and offering products and services that provide solutions to them. From the design phase to the marketing phase of products and services, there should be serious efforts to ensure they are easy to learn about, access and use for everyone, including those with disabilities.
Walking the talk also means ensuring that a commitment to diversity and inclusion is internal. Employment and promotion of people who are members of marginalized communities should be -considered for any company that prides itself on these values. If part of your brand’s core values is that you care about the community, the organizational culture should reflect this. It should be welcoming to people of different backgrounds and with different needs — a safe space that’s handicap accessible and has a no-tolerance policy when it comes to discrimination, hate speech, and slurs.
A brand’s commitment to its core values should not just be lip service, but a holistic approach. Nobody wants to spend time with a hypocrite or someone they think is fake. The same applies to brands. The difference is that over time, not walking the talk of your brand can potentially impact your company’s bottom line.