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Inclusion and Marketing

Author: Sonia Thompson

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Inclusive marketing is rapidly growing in prominence, as more consumers expect that brands "see" them, be more inclusive in their marketing campaigns, and accomodate a broader base of customers that don't cleanly fit into what is considered "mainstream."

The show is hosted by Sonia Thompson, an inclusive brand coach and strategist, speaker, Forbes and Inc. columnist who's helped brands and leaders alike attract and retain diverse customers.

This podcast explores everything you need to know about building an inclusive brand, including customer experience, inclusive leadership, cultural intelligence, building diverse teams, inclusive language and imagery, and more.

52 Episodes
Publishing inclusive content is a smart way to make more of the people you serve feel like they belong with you. But far too many brands produce content that makes people feel "othered" or where they can't even see themselves or who they aspire to be. No bueno. In this episode, Natasha Pierre, video coach, strategist, and host of The Shine Online podcast covers how to make your content more inclusive so you can make more people feel seen and build a more diverse customer base. Key points: How video content has changed the way people buy How brands often make consumers feel "othered" which pushes them away How to build a diverse customer base How to create a customer experience that makes the people you serve feel seen How to be inclusive with your video content when you're the face of your brand Why how you talk about things in your content matters in whether or not people feel like they belong with you How to use video content to increase your authority and visibility Why we need more creators from underrepresented communities to show their faces in content Why it's the responsibility of marketers and creators to change the narrative Links: Shine With Natasha - Join the Inclusion & Marketing Newsletter Each week, get stories, Inclusion news, and additional insights to help you attract and retain a more diverse customer base. -
Capturing consumer insights are an important part of any brand that wants to serve customers well. It's an important lever in developing a deep degree of customer intimacy that enables you to deliver products, services, and experiences that make the people you serve feel like they belong with you. But all consumer insights aren't created equal. And as you work engage consumers from underrepresented and underserved communities, having a deep degree of understanding of their experiences, their dreams, desires, fears, and frustrations, and how those all may be different from those in the masses is essential. But too often, brands don't adapt their approach to capturing insights to enable them to get both the depth of insights and understanding of them to make effective decisions. In this episode, I chat with Renita Bryant, CEO if Sights Set Consulting, a consumer-centric market research consultancy, about how to incorporate inclusion into your market research processes to ensure you get the insights you need. Key points discussed: The role insights play in building an inclusive brand Why representation matters throughout the entirety of the market research process Why brands need to move away from the general market approach when it comes to research How to ensure you're able to effectively act on the insights you gain in your campaigns with diverse communities Best practices for getting insights from underrepresented and underserved communities How biases negatively impact the insights you capture How to ensure you get a diverse cross-section of people in your research studies Links: Sights Set Consulting: Keep going: Go deeper with inclusion and marketing. Get the Inclusion & Marketing newsletter in your inbox each week.
Unfortunately, in 2023 gender pay gaps exist. And worst yet, gender pay gaps exist even more so when you look at the data for women from underrepresented and underserved communities. These disparities in women's pay vs. their male counterparts negatively impact belonging for the people on your team, which of course in turn negatively impacts how well they make the customers you serve feel like they belong. In this episode, I walk you through practical ways you can work on closing the gender pay gap both within your company and within your industry. ---- Join the Inclusion & Marketing Newsletter at
To build an inclusive brand you have to have an inclusive culture. It’s really hard to authentically attract and retain customers from underrepresented communities, if you do a poor job of attracting and retaining talent from underrepresented communities. Because workplace culture is such an imperative, I am thrilled to bring you this chat with today’s guests, Leanne and Al Elliott, hosts of the Truth, Lies, and Workplace Culture podcast, and co-founders of a workplace culture consultancy, OblongHQ . Leanne is a certified business psychologist and leadership coach, and Al is a serial entrepreneur - a great marriage of theory and practice. OblongHQ Rx7 Foundations of an Inclusive Culture Introducing the Rx7 Truth, Lies, and Workplace Culture podcast Dive deeper into with the Inclusion and Marketing newsletter.
Customer success doesn't happen at the same rate for everyone. The customers you serve with differences, including those who are BIPOC, often have external factors that negatively impact their journey to success. The good news is, you have the power to implement products, services, and experiences that pave the way for a greater degree of success for your BIPOC customers and others with differences. In this episode, Natalia Sanyal, an anti-oppressive copywriter and brand strategist talk about an approach she's taken to make her BIPOC customers feel seen, cared for, and have a greater likelihood of both enjoyment and success with her programs. Her approach is one that can be replicated and adapted to fit your business needs and the consumers you serve. Links mentioned in this episode: Episode 45: Factors That Influence Your Customers' Success You Need to Be Aware Of Episode 38: [Listen to Them] Black Women Are Used to Being the Only Ones Like Them in a Room in Professional Settings. Here's What it's Like Natalia's website Want to go deeper on how to build an inclusive brand? Get the weekly Inclusion & Marketing Newsletter, where you'll get more insights, examples, and current events showcasing the power of inclusion and inclusive marketing in action. Go here to get signed up:
Over the past few years more brands have started to lean harder into more inclusive campaigns. As we look at SuperBowl campaigns for 2021 and 2022, inclusion took a more prominent role. That wasn’t the case in SuperBowl LVII. The celebrity filled ads seemed to have different goals. While inclusion didn’t feel like it was actively considered in the majority of ad campaigns, there were still major wins throughout the event that are worth calling out, as well as one noteworthy ad from the NFL that did hit the mark from an inclusion standpoint. Want to go deeper? Join the Inclusion & Marketing email newsletter:
We all want the people we serve to be successful. However, there are other customer success factors that influence the outcomes of both your team and your customers -- that have nothing to do with the products, services, and experiences you deliver. And those factors have to do with their differences. Unfortunately, the differences of people on your team and the customers you serve, can cause them to get different results from those in "dominant" groups. I cover what the most common differences are that can have a negative impact on your customers' success, why, and how you can go about closing the gap to support everyone you serve, so they can thrive. I'm hosting a live workshop to help you identify and address these factors on Friday, February 24 at 12pm EST. It's called: How to Build Experiences That Make Underrepresented and Underserved Talent Consumers and Talent Feel Like They Belong. Get registered here at I'll send you the replay even if you can't attend live. ----- Links mentioned in this episode: Racial Bias in Healthcare study: Sephora Racial Bias in Retail study: VC's investment in women and minority owned startups - Diversity VC Data - Jereshia Hawk IG reel - Negative stereotypes re: Black people - scientific data -
Just because a brand decides to engage in inclusive marketing, doesn't mean the consumers they want to attract will automatically respond favorably. Trust needs to be earned before consumers from underrepresented and underserving communities will feel like give their attention, dollars, and loyalty. In this episode Black consumers share what brands have done and should do to earn their trust. Go to to listen to all the episodes in this series. There you'll also find details about the live workshops February 22-24 to help you develop action plans based upon the insights from this series
Representation matters. But not all representation is created equal. As more brands are starting to produce more representative imagery, consumers from underrepresented and underserved communities aren't necessarily jumping for joy. Some are actually turned off by it. In this episode, Black consumers share their responses to more diverse visual imagery, and what brands can do to engage in inclusive and representative imagery in a manner that draws them closer to to them. Go to to hear all the episodes in this series. There, you'll also find details about the live workshops February 22-24 to build action plans based upon the insights from this series.
Brands have a lot of power. Whether you are intentional about how you use it or not, your products, visuals, communications, and the experiences you deliver have an impact on the way consumers feel. Make sure that impact is one you desire to have. In this episode, consumers talk about the power brands have on influencing consumers, and what they can and should do to use that power for good. Go to to find all the episodes in this series, and to get details about the live workshops February 22-24 to develop action plans based upon the learnings from these episodes.
Soon enough, we'll all work with people who are different from us in some way. And while engaging with people who are different comes naturally for some, for others it isn't quite as smooth. In this episode, Black talent share their experiences and perspectives on working with people different from them, while offering advice on how to engage and interact in a way that is both respectful and effective. The more we know how to interact with others, especially those who are different from us, the easier it will be to make more people feel like they belong with you. You can find all the episodes in this series at There you'll also find details about the live workshops happening February 22-24, where we'll develop action plans to help you apply the insights gleaned from these episodes.
There's plenty of research that shows diverse teams out-perform their non-diverse peers. Not only do they outperform them financially, but they also are more innovative. But just because you have a diverse team doesn't mean you'll automatically receive the benefits of having one. You have to be intentional about creating a team culture that enables everyone on the team to thrive, and be better together. In this episode, Black talent share their experiences working in high-performing diverse teams, and offer their perspectives on the environments that existed that enabled those teams to thrive. Go to for all the episodes in this series. There you'll also find details about the live workshops being held February 22-24 to help you build action plans based upon the insights from the episodes in this series.
Micro-aggressions are like little pinches, slaps, and punches people from marginalized communities all too often at work. Sometimes the people delivering the micro-aggresions are aware that they are committing them, and other times they are both completely oblivious they are delivering them, and of the impact it has on the recipient. Micro-aggressions prevent and ruin inclusive cultures. If you want everyone on your team to feel like they belong -- including your talent from underrepresented and underserved communities, you've got to stamp out micro-aggressions from your culture. A smart starting point is to be aware of common micro-aggressions people on your team could be experiencing. In this episode, Black talent share common micro-aggressions they've experienced, how they deal with them, and how it impacts their working relationships. Go to for all the episodes in this special series, and to get details about the live masterclasses happening February 22-24 to help you build action plans based upon the insights gleaned from this special series.
As a Black woman, I've grown accustomed to being the only one in the room on many occasions. But it's not just my experience. Ask any woman, person of color, or anyone else from a historically underrepresented group, and for most, being "the only" or "one of a few" in both personal or professional settings is nothing new. But we adapt. We find ways to push through the discomfort of those experiences in a manner that enables us to thrive. But there are costs that come with being "the only" or "one of a few." And when you know the experiences, the costs, and the burdens associated -- it equips you with the insight you need to make things better for Black team members and other people from marginalized communities who find themselves in this position far too often. As a result, you'll be able to make more of the people on your team feel like they belong, and create an environment that enables them to thrive. Listen to the entire "Listen to Them" series at There, you'll also find details about the live workshops happening February 22-24 to build action plans based upon insights from this series.
This year, I wanted to take the opportunity to do a Black History Month campaign that both elevated voices and shined a light on experiences people within the community have, for the purpose of educating others not within the community on how they can make life better for both Black talent and Black consumers. The result, is a special podcast series I’m dropping for you, you can find right here in the feed. It’s called “Listen to Them: Black Talent and Consumers Share Their Real Life Stories and Perspectives on Working in Teams and Inclusive Marketing.” In it, you’ll hear directly from people I interviewed in a narrative format - about various topics related to working in teams and of course inclusive marketing. We cover micro-aggressions, what it’s like being the only one, or one of a few in the room in a professional setting, what high-performing teams look like, and how to work with people who are different from you. This is beneficial for you to hear for anyone who works with others in a team setting – including leaders and individual contributors – because everyone plays a role in making people feel like they belong. From a marketing standpoint, we covered topics such as representation, authenticity, and the power brands have in how people feel about themselves. Have a listen to the episodes, and then go to to register for the workshops being held February 22-24 to create an action plan based upon the insights from the episodes.
We're days away from Black History Month 2023 in the U.S. and Canada. It is a wonderful thing that more brands are celebrating the achievements and contributions of Black people to society, however, there are some missteps I've seen over the years by brands that have cause a bit of backlash from the very community they wish to celebrate. I don't want this to happen to you. So in this episode, I walk you through 7 principles you need to be aware of before going live with your next campaign. Find the examples and visuals referenced in this episode here: ----- What inclusive brand type are you? Take this quick quiz to find out: Want to go deeper with building your inclusive brand? Check out Inclusive Brand Academy at and find out which option is right for you.
More brands than ever are engaging in inclusive marketing. And increasingly, consumers are starting to take notice. And while it is a good thing that marketers are making more of an effort to serve a broader range of people, consumers from underrepresented and underserved communities aren’t just automatically flocking to those brands. Marginalized consumers want brands to prove they are worthy of their attention and dollars. They have higher expectations of the brands that are working to win their attention and get them to swipe their credit cards. In this episode, I cover five expectations diverse consumers have of brands that want to earn their loyalty. ----- Podcast mentioned in this episode: How Consumers Want You to Celebrate Heritage Months with Arturo Gutierrez (Inclusion & Marketing podcast, episode 23) What inclusive brand type are you? Take this quick quiz to find out: Want to go deeper with building your inclusive brand? Check out Inclusive Brand Academy at and find out which option is right for you.
In this episode – Sarah-Chen Spellings and I and cover a lot of topics ranging from what makes marketing truly inclusive, how to focus your efforts by going narrow to reach a wider audience, as well as best practices for building a high-performing diverse team. About Sarah-Chen Spellings: Sarah is the co-founder and managing partner of Beyond the Billion (BTB), launched as The Billion Dollar Fund for Women, the world's first and largest global consortium of 100+ venture capital funds and limited partner investors that have now pledged to and are actively deploying beyond US$1BN to be invested into women-founded companies. She also hosts the Billion Dollar Moves podcast. Here's what we covered in this session: Why leaning into diversity can be a growth pillar for brands How diversity can be a foundational starting point for building a high-performing team What to focus on when working to build a high-performing team that is representative of the people Why many leaders struggle to find diverse talent How to build a culture that is conducive for team members to share their opinions and experiences Why unconscious bias training isn't what moves the dial in building an inclusive culture (and what actually does) How to ensure you set yourself up for success in reaching your goals as it relates to your diversity and inclusion goals What inclusive brand type are you? Take the quiz to find out. Want to go deeper on how to attract and retain diverse customers and talent? Check out my program Inclusive Brand Academy and see which option works best for you.
Life is about belonging. And because of that business is about belonging. That's why the businesses that take the time to serve consumers from underrepresented and underserved communities are winning their attention, adoration, and loyalty. In this episode, I chatted with Jacqueline Snyder and Minna Khounlo-Sithep about how product-based businesses are winning more customers by leaning into inclusion in a manner that fits for both their business and their customers. Here are some key points covered in the discussion: The 3 areas product-based business owners infuse inclusion into their businesses Why it doesn't matter where your brand starts in terms of the types of consumers you're able to reach Why representation matters beyond just brand and product photography Why there's no one right way to build an inclusive brand Why feedback (or complaints) are a great opportunity to identify how to become more inclusive in your brand How to be resourceful in choosing how to be more inclusive in your business Why more doesn't equal more About Jacqueline and Minna Jacqueline Snyder and Minna Khounlo-Sithep are the combined force behind The Product Boss Podcast. They have grown a community of high-achieving product-based small business owners and have helped them scale their physical product businesses through masterminds, group coaching and digital courses designed specifically for product-based business owners ranging from start-up conception to multi-million dollar companies. Together their goal is to change the landscape of product entrepreneurship by connecting women around the world through a blend of real-life business tactics, creative strategy and modern leadership. Join Jacqueline and Minna in The Product Boss Best Year Yet workshop series Which inclusive brand type are you? Take the quiz: Want to go deeper in how to build an inclusive brand? Check out Inclusive Brand Academy:
As we arrive at 40 years of celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and work as an official holiday, many will revisit some of Dr. King’s most famous speeches, and reflect on how far we’ve come. Others will dedicate their time engaging in acts of service. If you are looking for additional ways you and your team can honor Dr. King and his legacy, consider going beyond just taking a pause on a day meant to commemorate him and his message. Honor him by focusing on continuing the work he started, but wasn’t able to finish. This episode covers how.
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