There has been an ongoing conversation that has popped up very, very often. It’s a conversation and topic that I have spoken about on my Instagram stories quite frequently and it’s something that I not only pay attention to as a blogger, but also as a teacher. That conversation – diversity & inclusion. In both of my workplaces, I have found that diversity is thin to none, and it’s truly a shame in both of my workspaces because of notion that both spaces are influencing the younger generation. There is a lack diversity in influencer marketing and a lack of diversity at the workplace when it comes to many of the workspaces today.
When it comes to diversity in influencer marketing and diversity at the workplace, I have a strong opinion on the topic. Not simply because I am in these spaces, but because I want to see a different future for others than I saw myself. In my younger years, I never saw myself represented in campaigns or in workspaces that are generally stereotyped as spaces for white males. So, growing up, I didn’t strive to get into those spaces. And as I entered into influencer marketing, I didn’t find myself seeking success because I truly believed it wasn’t for an influencer like me. But things needs to change and are changing because they need to.
What Does DIVERSITY IN INFLUENCER MARKETING MEAN?
In influencer marketing, diversity connects to who is included and represented in the creator space as it comes to brand partnerships, marketing, and collaborations. It is the inclusion of individuals who reflect differences and uniqueness that sets them apart from others. The different lying in the creator’s race, ethnicity, skin color, gender, body type, sexual preference, socioeconomic status, and how that person identifies.
Diversity IN INFLUENCER MARKETING
Now, I am one that always gives credit where credit is due, so I am going to start off and say that in the blogger/influencer space, one of the biggest voices that has been speaking on diversity and working to make change is blogger, Alicia Tenise. She recently posted a tweet that showcased how she documented influencer trips over an extended period of time. In those documentations, it was quite evident of the lack of diversity on the trips. Many of the brands had influencer groups that were, what I would call, “cookie cutter” – white, blonde, skinny…you get the gist. Her tweet went viral and was covered by a number of publications, and though her tweet made quite a splash, there hasn’t been a huge change seen as of yet.
The influencer space is a space where, we as bloggers and influencers, share tips and suggestions on how to style things, what to buy, how to create something…and with social media being something that almost everyone is on, it’s not surprising that brands are putting so much effort and funding behind bloggers/influencers who have followings on social media. Their voices are influential. But, what about the young girl who is not white or not a size 2? How come she can’t see herself represented on social media on these ads and trips? Honestly, it makes those of us who are not in that “cookie cutter” look feel that we aren’t worth it. Not only do these trips and experiences aid in promoting the brand, additionally, these trips also allow for bloggers/influencers to grow their own followings. So while those “cooke cutter” women are getting bigger and bigger, which means that they are being looked at by more brands now because of their growing following, black bloggers/influencers are getting left behind and are working 5x as hard to get their voices heard and their faces seen.
Brands who celebrate diversity and include diverse looks and voices in their brand partnerships reach a larger, broader, and more inclusive audience. And by connecting with diverse influencers, the brand will be able to get diverse creative ideas that they may have not seen before. At this point in time, the call for diversity is growing, and I truly believe that we will get to a point where brands will begin to see a decline in their consumer loyalty if they do not begin working with diverse influencers.
Diversity AT THE WORKPLACE
Over the years I’ve worked in a variety of workplaces. When I first entered in the workspace, I began, like many others in retail. And even in the stores that I worked in, I didn’t see much diversity. As I continued down my career path, I saw less and less diversity in the workplace. My original profession is in teaching. Yes, I used to work in the retail space and then I worked in the corporate and now I am in the tech space working remotely – so I have some experience in other workspaces, but I want to start by speaking first about the lack of diversity in the teaching field as I saw it because it connects to the blogger/influencer space. As a teacher, I am also a source of influence. So, as a blogger and a teacher, I am doubly influencing no matter my work space.
When I was in college, it was surprising to see that many of the other students that were in my field weren’t of color. I know from when I was in grade school, my biggest want was to have a teacher standing in front of me that looked like me. But, I wasn’t fortunate enough to have that experience, so I decided that as a teacher, I was going to give future students to have a teacher of diversity to stand in front of them. Upon getting my teaching job, I was excited to be going into a school where the majority of the population was minority. But I was also saddened to know that I was going to be the only minority teacher in the building. How could this be happening? Where are the other teachers?
Now, I don’t want to dive too far into this, but here’s where I want to make my point. In any workspace, there is a lack of black women represented. And if we are there, we are a token one or few and are typically not given opportunities to be at the top of the food chain. And if we do get there, it’s because we had to work 5x as hard to get there. Similar to the influencer space, there is a lack of black women being represented in any work space, and in the influential workspace of teaching, it saddens me that the younger generations aren’t seeing themselves represented.
So What Do We Do TO INCREASE DIVERSITY IN FINLUENCER MARKETING
That’s the question that I always get. Whenever I post to stories to talk about the topic, I get the question, “what can be done?” Well, here’s my tips…
If you’re a brand – start working with more influencers/bloggers of color and those who are of different sizes. Don’t just pick one token person to show representation. Instead show larger diversity. If you’re planning an influencer trip of 10 women try to make sure that each and every person doesn’t look like the next – include all shapes and sizes. And if you reach out to a blogger/influencer that can’t go on the trip, find another individual that matches who they are. Don’t want to go through the whole process again, ASK US TO HELP YOU. There have been opportunities that I had to pass on, and I would have loved if the brand came back and asked me if there is someone else that I think would be a great fit. I have a list that I would be happy to send.
If you’re another blogger/influencer – when invited on these opportunities, inquire about the diversity and if there isn’t any, make suggestions while you’re working with the brand. I’m not going to tell you to say “Oh, well, you’re not including others, so I am not going to work with you.” You’re a business. You need your income too. I get it. But while you’re in communication with them, mention how you would have loved to be among other bloggers/influencers who don’t look exactly like you instead of seeing the same group over and over again. Speak to how you would love the opportunity to network with others and how it would be a benefit to them to have a more diverse group so that they can expand their reach which would improve their revenue.
If you’re a reader/follower – post comments to brands about how you feel about the lack of diversity. You may think that brands aren’t reading the comments on their social media, but they are. They are listening. And when they do include diversity, say something positive about it. Additionally, support brands that are including diversity and stray away from the brands that refuse to include those that look like you. They’ll start to notice and it will force them to make change. For example, (not that this is the greatest difference, but they are working on it), Revolve came under major fire for their lack of diversity on their big influencer trips and on their page, and they began making a change. I didn’t support them prior and I made it known to them about why I didn’t, but they have began making a change and I have began buying their clothes again. I mean, the clothes are cute so I am happy.
To make things easier for everyone, below, I’m including a list of diverse bloggers you should follow and support along with a list of brands who are inclusive and show diversity.