Diageo addresses industry diversity issues


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Diageo launches four-part diversity framework

Diageo launches four-part diversity framework

Diageo has launched a diversity framework to address diversity and break down common barriers in the drinks industry. The four-part framework aims to tackle representation, perception, agency relationships and characterisation as the company looks to drive change and move away from relying on stereotypes as a shortcut for building content.

“Not all stereotypes are harmful, but they are an easy shortcut that is used across advertising so you really need something that breaks that and breaks it down,” says Gráinne Wafer, global brand director for Baileys at Diageo.

While most people think they can fix representation fairly easily, Gráinne argued that the problem is more nuanced than people think. She referred to one study which found that when women make up 17% of people in a crowd men believe it’s actually 50/50, and when it is made up of 33% women men believe women are in the majority.

“When we’re making ads and you see a couple of women in ads you think it’s balanced, but actually it’s not. So first we have to fix that. And secondly the sort of women in our ads tend to be white, stunning, aspirational, slim; you don’t see a lot of diversity of representation. So, while you might think we can tick the representation box quite quickly it’s actually more complicated than that,” she said.

Fantastic work with women 

Characterisation is another critical point and one that requires marketers to take a “hard look” at themselves and ask whether the story is still interesting if you remove the fact it is about a woman.

“We’re doing fantastic work with women [and they are] more prominent in advertising but the stories don’t have the depth and the character that we would expect and demand, and for me that means women are being used to make a point rather than it being a great piece of content,” explained Gráinne.

She said brands need to create an environment where people feel confident enough to have conversations about stereotypes and question why things are being done in a certain way.

“We need to create a framework and have an open conversation across agencies and clients where we can challenge some of those stereotypes. Critically, we have to recognise that we all bring stereotypes to the table, it’s perfectly normal. We all have unconscious bias, we’ve all been brought up a certain way. That’s something you have to recognise but we’ve got to find a way of recovering it.”

When it comes to perspective, she said the main question marketers need to ask themselves is who does this piece of advertising work for, and does it objectify women (or men), while for agencies she says “are women the best-supporting-actress or are they the lead role? Are they driving the agenda?”

“The one thing I think we and all clients in the industry can do when they sit down with their agencies is ask to see their diversity plan. I’ve done it recently and have been met with some blank faces. Some people have been able to say, ‘I know exactly what it is, here it is, we’re not there yet, we’re at 20% but we have a plan’. And that’s all I want to hear – ‘we have a plan’.”

 

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