How representation can positively impact your business (and the world)

Representation is necessary for the future success of your business. If you want your business to grow, people need to see themselves reflected in your brand and product. But if representation in business is “on trend,” why are companies so slow to meet their customers’ and audience’s demands? The obvious and unfortunate reason is that many companies don’t think representation is a problem they need to address.

If you ever look at social media or the news (or you just don’t live under a rock), then you’ve noticed a cultural shift is happening. The growing calls for businesses to prioritize equality and representation have gotten louder. But if representation in business is “on trend,” why are companies so slow to meet their customers’ and audience’s demands? The obvious and unfortunate reason is that many companies don’t think representation is a problem they need to address.

However, companies that do recognize the importance of representation in business often have a different problem — they don’t know where to start. That leads to representation becoming just another business objective lost in a sea of to-dos. But diversity isn’t just a box to check in your annual business strategy. Real representation has societal implications that are bigger than any single decision, like remote work, hiring, and quarterly planning. 

To foster inclusivity in a meaningful way, it needs to become a part of a company’s DNA and be reflected in every internal and external decision a business makes. Such efforts are always most effective when a company commits fully to representation and builds it right into their overall business strategy.

Representation in business takes work

Listen, we get it. There’s plenty of disarray and confusion in the world as we’re all still figuring out what post-pandemic life will look like. We’re all tired from that, but our underrepresented friends, co-workers, customers, and family members are downright exhausted.

So, it’s time to get to work. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because representation is necessary for the future success of your business and a more harmonious society. If you want your business to scale and grow in a sustainable way, your customers and prospects need to see themselves reflected in your brand. That includes your product as well as the content you create and distribute. 

Don’t believe us? The numbers speak for themselves. Download our Diversity in Video Report for exclusive data, insights, and case studies that examine what your consumers expect from your business today.

Representation in business leads to more efficient ad spend

According to Entrepreneur, 62% of consumers report that inclusivity impacts their perception of a brand. Positive brand perception generates more word-of-mouth, which increases the efficiency of your marketing dollars. Our Diversity in Video Report revealed that 59% of consumers say they’re more likely to trust a brand whose ads feature people who look like them. That means you can appeal to a wider audience by simply including more diverse faces in your marketing efforts.

Improving your brand’s perception starts from within. That means you need to not only focus on inclusive marketing, but also recruit diverse talent, hire and promote equitably, and treat everyone with respect. A truly representative workforce is diverse at all levels of your organization, especially within the leadership team and corporate suite.

diverse group of coworkers in business meeting

Representation in business can differentiate you from your competitors.

A 2019 Google survey in partnership with the Female Quotient & Ispos highlights how diversity can set you apart in a crowded marketplace. The survey found that 71% of LGBTQ+ customers and 67% of Black customers are more likely to notice an ad that they feel represents them. If you don’t capture your audience’s attention, they’ll move on to something else. 

In a competitive business landscape, knowing your audience and marketing to them authentically can make all the difference. “Authentically” is the key word there. Audiences can spot a brand’s disingenuous attempts to seem authentic from a mile away. To avoid simply pandering to your audience, you need to really get to know them. Listen to their feedback and pay attention to their observations. That’s particularly important if they bring a unique perspective as a member of a traditionally resilient community. Carefully consider your audience’s responses and address their concerns to ensure these groups feel genuinely seen and included. Then, before you release your ads to the world, test them. It’s worth the effort to run them by members of underrepresented groups inside and outside of your organization. That will help to reveal any potential blind spots that you should address.

Companies that embrace diversity earn higher financial returns.

If you’re still skeptical, you might be asking yourself, “But how does this impact our bottom line?” This quote from Fortune sums it up quite nicely: “Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.” 

If you were on the fence, we hope you’re now a believer in the power representation has when businesses take it seriously. And not just because of the financial benefits. Making business decisions through a more inclusive lens gives your company, your advertising, and your workforce the power to change the world for the better. 

Representation really does matter. Audiences tend to absorb unspoken messaging in advertisements. If everybody they see in ads looks, dresses, or speaks exactly the same way, that reinforces stereotypes. In reality, our world is a smorgasbord of different races, backgrounds, body types, sexualities, and more. Excluding any of them only misrepresents the true makeup of our society.

Find out how representation in business can lift up your company — and society as a whole

Download Storyblocks’ free Diversity in Video Report for our analytical deep dive into years of historical user data across our platform. You’ll learn how diversity influences consumer sentiment, understand current market trends, and get tips to produce content that delivers on your consumers’ expectations. 

Editor’s note: We updated this article to include additional information. It was originally published on June 14, 2021.