The concept of “any news is good news” is not the case for diversity. Decades of excellent work can be undone with one scandalous headline. Perception obscures reality.
Best practices companies manage their workforce brand closely. Many spend tens of millions on diversity. However, much of this spend is not for the benefit of their employees; it is for branding. The funds go to the hundreds of not-for-profit and for-profit organizations whose mission is to further some aspect of diversity. They conduct independent research and provide information on best practices. There is media including magazines, newspapers, websites and book publishers. Affinity organizations allow individuals to share commonality and meet cohorts by any number of category including educational level, university attended, gender, sexual orientation, color, ethnicity, nationality and industry. There are also service firms that support diversity and inclusion by offering training, networking and consulting.
These external services offer the opportunity for companies to receive independent recognition and awards for programs and policies in support of diversity. This external recognition is a validation of efforts that also supports branding.
Spend is also channeled into events and conferences. Many are highly prestigious and incredibly valuable branding and networking opportunities; some are less so. All the events and conferences seek corporate sponsors for everything from research launches, events and programs, journal advertisements, advertorial placement to award dinners. Companies make the investments in support of their “employee” brand.
The same applies to Supplier Diversity. Typically managed for compliance and reporting purposes, Supplier Diversity, too, supports an expensive industry. Economic investments in Supplier Diversity are also made in the name of branding.
The core commercial business brand is managed separately. This creates redundancy and inconsistency. All branding activities should fall under a common umbrella. Further, branding facilitates the commercialization of diversity. With a diversity component of the commercial branding strategy, a company will leverage and integrate its financial investment in workforce, client and supplier diversity to achieve a greater end result.
In conclusion, the solution to diversity branding is for a firm to directly link an integrated diversity strategy to its commercial brand. Companies that do will see an exponential increase in financial return on investment.
Strategic Diversity Solutions: Branding
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