Abhi Morjaria on diversity and inclusion in B2B spheres

In a recent interview, Lucy Gillman, junior copywriter at B2B marketing, sat down with Abhi Morjaria, Senior Global Marketing Manager at Ingram Micro Cloud to discuss where diversity and inclusion should start, what B2B can learn from B2C and what marketers need to know entering 2022.

LG: To kick off the interview, would you mind telling us a bit about yourself and your background in B2B? 

I’m Abhi Morjaria, born and bred Londoner now living in Milton Keynes with my husband and 2-year old son, Kyan. My B2B career started with an incredible opportunity at one of the leading tech giants – IBM. I moved into agency roles at The Croc and McDonald Butler, now part of Hotwire, where I managed marketing strategy for large tech brands. After that, I co-found a milkshake and dessert shop with my husband and I also started my own e-commerce business. I returned into tech with Ingram Micro Cloud almost five years ago and have progressed through key marketing roles including head of marketing for the UK business and now as a senior global marketer.

LG: In one of your blogs for IWD, you’ve spoken about being an active ally in the workplace. What does this mean to you?

I reference a quote by Brooklyn-based digital designer and product strategist Amélie Lamont who states: “Saying you’re an ally is much easier than actually being an ally. Saying you’re an ally looks good on paper, especially if you’re never questioned about your inaction.”

What we need is active allyship – this is a person who learns, and in some cases unlearns. They are proactive and understand the power of their privilege. They seek social justice and stand up in the moment with not only a voice but actions for those oppressed.

LG: When it comes to questions of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, where should this start? Is it something that leadership should take the lead on, or is it more holistic and less simplistic? 

Simple answer – It begins with everyone. 

I recently posed the question will there ever be equity in the workplace? From disparities, marginalisation, microaggressions, unconscious bias and people with privilege who believe they have an elite status - it all leads to exclusion. 

I feel there are three key ways to lead and bring change. Firstly, view Race as a Right. By this I mean Race isn't a card people use as they feel injustice, it's the very reason there is injustice. Secondly, I look at silent allies vs. active allies. Again, as mentioned the ones who act and are vocal. And finally, breaking female barriers. This is the view that society and certain cultures have on the role of women. Lifting the lid on how we tackle diversity, equity and inclusion, is not the role of a few, but everyone. It's something we all should care deeply about, understand and want to help for not just a better workplace, but for allowing those unheard to be represented, ensuring those who have paved progress are recognised and fundamentally creating equity to allow everyone to be born equal.

LG: There’s been a shift in focus over the past few years. B2C organisations are focusing more and more on socio-political issues through their marketing. Where do you think that B2B comes into play from a marketing perspective? What are the lessons we can learn from B2C on getting it right, and getting it wrong?

I think authenticity is a key trait. I don’t think all B2C have nailed it, quite far from. Brands who jump on socio-political issues for the sake of getting in front of people are quickly noticed vs. those who do a consistent job of creating a brand that has a true purpose for driving change and stand up for issues that deeply impact their consumers. 

A good example of this is Patagonia. Their core values are building the best product, causing no unnecessary harm, using business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. They put their money where their mouth is by investing in renewable energy, donating 1% of sales to grassroots and environmental groups, campaigning for environmental causes through initiatives and programs such as their Worn Wear program

A full circle view on how you operate as a business is often missed by many and become an afterthought such as let's be carbon neutral, or let’s find five causes we can support. This is not a genuine impact to society. It’s PR.

LG: From a B2C perspective, it can sometimes come across that there’s a disparity between what brands are saying, and what they’re doing. Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi commercial is perhaps the clearest example of that. How can you ensure from a marketing perspective that your dedication to diversity and inclusion remains authentic and doesn’t come across as a simple marketing slogan?

Firstly, how did that Pepsi ad even get approved? Not to mention that they had another pulled in 2013 for similar reasons. It’s truly insensitive and potentially an output of having non-diverse perspectives on the project. To create campaigns that are inclusive to all and understands the impact to a diverse audience – create a diverse workforce – sounds simple, but is it?

One contributor to hindering diversity is unconscious bias - the number one reason for a homogenous work environment and sameness thinking, leading to disabling diversity and an enemy of creativity, innovation and better decision-making. I challenge every company to look at their workforce and honestly say they were chosen based on merit, talent and experience.

LG: Looking forwards into 2022, what are your pieces of advice for marketers on diversity and inclusion in the workplace? 

I’d look for marketers to ensure they firstly feel safe and are in an organisation they can speak up, support diversity and inclusion initiatives, and truly become active allies for others. Whilst we focus on diversity and inclusion, let’s also not forget equity. This is just as important, if not more so. Equity means everyone has access to the same opportunity, but everyone is not able to take advantage of that opportunity in the same way. So, businesses must think how they can level the playing field. 

As marketers, we should create content that represents the world we live in, you’re seeing more and more brands create inclusive content which is great, but let’s ensure beyond what we see and it’s not just a movement – there is a change in perspective and understanding that we are not born equal, privilege is in many forms beyond wealth, sex, race and status and we need more active allies – to help us progress as a generation.

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