6 ways the advertising industry can be inclusive in 2022

The advertising industry has a distinct opportunity to influence culture by creating campaigns that are representative across race, gender, sexual orientation, age and physical ability. This same opportunity also makes it a target for quick criticism from consumers when the message falls flat or doesn’t land the way it was intended.

But this shouldn’t deter creatives from being more inclusive, and thinking about representation from the very start as an idea begins to take shape. During the Female Quotient’s Equality Lounge at the recent CES tech show, media executives shared solutions to change the way we work, and the need for equity-centered, system-wide change. Here are six ways the advertising industry can become more inclusive in 2022:

1. Make it a business imperative
If inclusion work is not perceived as a core strategy, it’s not going to be integrated into daily processes, goals and expectations. It needs to be woven into everything an organization does to succeed, not solely on the shoulders of the executive in charge of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Inclusion needs to be its own business strategy coming from the top-down.

2. Audit your advertising campaigns
“A lot of brands think they’re doing a great job with diversity and representation in their advertising, until we do a ‘heat test’ and ingest all of a company’s advertising over a quarter, comparing it with its competitors to see how diverse it actually is,” says Nathan Young, head of strategy at Deloitte’s Ethos service, helping clients effect DEI initiatives.“And then, the client is often surprised to find that it’s not as diverse as they thought.”

3. Diversify every layer of the production process
Who’s behind the camera? Who’s producing the work? This is another layer that can bring additional authenticity and can power the decisions leaders make to drive equity. Review every layer of the production process. Look at who’s on board and the influence they’re having on the creative, the language in the script, the set design, the choice of music and the clothing worn. All these things may appear minor, but little nuances mean so much to those watching.