5 ways B2B marketers can champion gender diversity
Amy Eckersley of The Marketing Pod explains 5 ways B2B marketers can propel diversity within their company
Gender parity might not be a new topic but its significance in business is rising. From the reaction to high profile brands revealing disappointing gender pay gaps in 2018 to the response to the #MeToo movement, giving more women the opportunity to flourish and succeed in business is finally moving from lip service to business priority. And of course, it makes commercial sense: in one recent study, boards with higher than average percentage of women outperformed those with fewer by 36%*. So where does marketing come in?
A commitment to tackling gender diversity in an organisation has to go far beyond the remit of the marketing function. Inclusive ad campaigns and more thoughtful imagery in corporate communications barely scratch the surface of diversity: it needs to be a board-level commitment, with action plans, senior buy-in and targets set and reported upon. But marketing has an important role to play in striving to improve both the internal agenda and the external image of an organisation.
- Align brand values with actions
As a strategic function, marketing has the ability to hold a mirror up to an organisation and recommend the best way to make progress. In much the same way that a marketer would never recommend a new market entrant associate its brand with roots and heritage, neither should a company position itself as a diversity champion without clear proof points and evidence. Similarly, the reputational impact of cases of gender disparity in an organisation can be seismic. Identifying risks and supporting resolution is vital for PR professionals, supported by marketing.
- Know your audience
Ultimately, marketing is responsible for ensuring the brand resonates with the audience it is trying to reach. The perception of the B2B buyer as a white male is outdated; as diversity in all organisations progresses, so too must the way in which marketing responds.
B2B marketing has shifted towards personalisation and adopted far more creative techniques to resonate with the individual. Yet whereas B2C frequently segments its audience and campaigns by demographic, B2B is still more likely to focus on a sector-based approach (as my colleague Kerrie explains here). This extends to identifying the right influencers to work with: ultimately, B2B marketeers need to understand what their audience are interested in, who they follow and respect, and what their priorities and pain points are. Hyper-personalisation unlocks more opportunities so exploring different ABM approaches could unlock new benefits.
- Champion female experts
Customer events, panel slots and webinars are key tactics in boosting the profile of a business and showcasing expertise to a B2B audience, but they’re also opportunities to champion diversity. All male line-ups are increasingly frowned upon and many panel organisers have gone so far as to ban them, ensuring events are more representative. Female experts aren’t hard to find, but they might not be considered in some organisations because historically one or two men have always put themselves forward. It would pay to refresh your list of spokespeople and topic experts and identify any additional training needs to support less experienced public speakers.
Of course, this is less about quotas and more about ensuring more voices are heard. If female internal experts are in short supply (something that marketers can flag to senior management as an action point), consider inviting third party experts to join an event. More and more associations are pulling together lists of female experts in their sector, particularly in traditionally male-dominated industries (such as Renewable UK’s Switch directory of female spokespeople in the energy sector).
- Attract the best talent
LinkedIn might be the platform of choice for B2B marketers looking to share content with the largest audience, but recruiters are also investing in social platforms to boost the perception of their company with prospective candidates. Some 56% of people use social professional networks to look for new jobs and 75% of recent candidates used LinkedIn to inform their career decision*. Working closely with HR to curate your company page and highlight flexibility and opportunities can help to improve the perception of an organisation as an employer.
Case studies and short videos profiling more women in the organisation at all levels also provide opportunities to demonstrate a commitment to diversity as well as boosting profiles of female spokespeople and sales teams to potential prospects.
- Align your brand well
For organisations truly engaged in boosting diversity, setting aside some budget and resource to support it can make a difference. That could be sponsoring women in business awards and categories or local initiatives and mentoring, as well as sharing case studies to support best practice.
…and a sixth bonus tip:
Be the change you want to see
The challenge to champion diversity also lands at the feet of B2B agencies as well as senior in-house marketeers. Whilst tackling the disparity between female-heavy junior roles and more male senior executives in marketing is a blog in itself, it’s hard to advise an organisation on diversity if your own is seriously lacking. From embracing the benefits of flexible working to broader initiatives and targets, B2B marketeers can champion change and demonstrate the advantages of greater gender parity from the inside, out.
*CS Gender 3000, Catalyst, Linkedin 2018