As someone who grew up in the wake of the Civil Rights era I, and countless others like me, are living examples from Corporate America’s experiment of trying to get their diversity and inclusion agenda right, while simultaneously targeting us via multicultural marketing. It was something I thought would evolve over the years, but progress has been slow.
While working at Ogilvy & Mather, I realized that brands were still applying the antiquated marketplace and workplace disciplines that I’d grown up with to a world that had completely shifted. That didn’t make sense to me, and when I left Ogilvy, I decided to see what I could do to change things. I had one mission: to help accelerate New Majority business transformation for brands and businesses. It was time for a new approach to the workplace and the marketplace. In order for brands to thrive in this new world, they would need to evolve to a Total Market approach, and their messages would need to speak to the New Majority.
Fact: The discipline and practice of general market and multicultural marketing is dated, despite the huge ($350 billion+) size of the Marketing and Communications industry. Earlier this month, General Mills publicly stated that they were establishing quotas for their “general market” agencies competing to become agency of record. Does this mean we will have a more diverse “general market” agency? Or will more work go away from multicultural agencies? Both models are antiquated and it’s time for a new model for brands and businesses. In 2013, via a LinkedIn survey at our very first Total Market Industry Summit, Reframe asked over 30 brands if they were satisfied with both their general market and multicultural marketing agencies. Not one of the brands came back with a satisfaction ranking over 7 on a scale of 1-10.
These agencies are unlikely to change.
Fact: For the first time in human history, the workplace and marketplace future is dependent on how well brands and businesses attract and retain women and minorities—what we call The New Majority. The focus on female and minority talent is sharper than it ever has been before. Despite that, problems endure. Talent disciplines and Diversity & Inclusion programs were established to support a mono-cultural workplace in compliance with anti-discrimination laws. That’s a far cry from seeing Diversity & Inclusion as a competitive advantage.
What’s the answer?
Brands need to Reframe their approach to the marketplace and workplace to reflect today’s world. Since 2009, I’ve been crafting the thinking, discipline, and application of a new marketplace approach that speaks to the whole marketplace—the Total Market. If brands are to have the outcomes they desire, they need to approach the market from a cross-cultural direction. Brands will need to simultaneously undergo a full transformation to become Total Market Enterprises™, and that means changing the way they think about themselves and approach their talent. These adjustments require careful change management strategies, but they are doable and scalable, provided the organization can be led to readiness for the New Majority.