The New Mainstream Podcast
By The New Mainstream Podcast
The New Mainstream PodcastNov 17, 2023
Inclusive Farm Bill Advocacy: Advancing Food Justice for All with Christina Wong
Soaring interest rates on borrowing and sharp increases in food prices have become harsh realities for many Americans. While there is speculation about inflation easing, the stark reality is that millions of Americans grapple with food insecurity.
Many argue that the food system in the U.S. is fundamentally flawed. Despite boasting the world's largest gross domestic product (GDP), the nation remains plagued by rising rates of homelessness and hunger. Countless children go to school hungry every day, relying on free or reduced-price lunches, often their only nutritious meal of the day, before returning to homes lacking access to fresh, healthy food.
Two common approaches to combating social issues like food insecurity involve programs and policies. One such program is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, while the policy in question is the Farm Bill.
SNAP serves as the first line of defense against hunger. However, the stigma associated with the program and misconceptions surrounding its benefits and accessibility have made it a target for some lawmakers and their constituents.
Systemic barriers restrict access to the program for those who need it most. For instance, while seemingly fair on the surface, the requirement to work a minimum of 20 hours per week fails to account for the realities of life experiences stemming from poverty, such as lower education levels and criminal history, factors that can significantly impact employability.
SNAP's modest benefits, amounting to essentially $2 per person per meal, are inadequate to cover the rising cost of food today. Nevertheless, it helps keep food on the table for families and supports small businesses like local farmers who grow and sell food to local markets, creating jobs in the community.
Critics of the program point to a perceived lack of personal responsibility among those in need as reasons to dismantle it. However, hunger is not a consequence of personal failings but a symptom of systemic injustice. Programs like SNAP should be more inclusive of the people they serve and not be subject to policy changes designed to cut government spending without addressing the underlying needs that necessitate these programs. Such changes are often based on harmful stereotypes.
Everyone feels the impact of an unhealthy food system. By actively informing Congress about the real-life struggles of those affected, we can collectively advocate for meaningful solutions.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Christina Wong, former Director of Public Policy & Advocacy at Northwest Harvest, shares insight into the Farm Bill’s SNAP provisions and the push for food equity.
Please Note: Christina Wong now serves as Vice President of Programs at Washington Conservation Action.
DEI: The Secret to Building High-Performing Inclusive Workplaces with Maria Morukian
Consumers are demanding more from brands when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. They are tired of the social polarization surrounding DEI and how these concepts are exploited to foster division and isolation. They support brands committed to creating a culture of respect and understanding where everyone feels valued, seen and heard in the workplace and the marketplace.
But too often, DEI initiatives in organizations go no further than high-level training and one-off workshops. DEI is more than bias training, however. It's about embedding DEI into all aspects of the organization, from hiring and promotion to product development and marketing.
Brands demonstrating their commitment to DEI will resonate with consumers, especially multicultural segments and younger generations. These consumers are increasingly looking to support brands that align with their values, and DEI has become one of their core values. Studies show that African American and Hispanic respondents, for example, are the most likely to support a company that makes a public commitment to diversity and inclusion initiatives. They do this by sharing support on social media, spending more money at stores, and going out of their way to shop in specific stores.
Removing limiting factors like bias and stereotype threat from organizational culture liberates employees to perform at their best, resulting in increased productivity, improved work outputs, and higher revenues.
How Fintech is Changing the Way Gen Z Manages Money with Lilah Raynor
Americans are feeling the pinch in their wallets, with fears of a government shutdown looming and prices for everyday goods and services rising. Consumers have been on an economic roller coaster for a few years due to COVID-19, which left millions jobless, and George Floyd's murder, which sparked national protests for social justice. These events have caused a ripple effect throughout the economy, leaving many people struggling to make ends meet.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many consumers went from overspending to spending far less as household incomes fluctuated. Those who could afford to spend increased their e-commerce purchases and invested in new financial instruments like cryptocurrencies. However, with the continuing economic uncertainty, consumers are generally being more cautious with their spending.
Generationally, Gen Z consumers aged 16 to 25 have proven resourceful when it comes to personal finance, particularly “Zennials” (also known as “Zillennials”), older Gen Z and younger Millennial consumers on the fringes of their cohorts. But unlike Millennials, who as a generation are struggling to catch up to where they should be from a savings perspective due to factors like student loan debt and pandemic losses, have struggled to plan. But their younger siblings, Gen Z, have watched and learned, leaning into advice from family and friends on what to invest in and leveraging fintech tools to manage their money.
Fintech is addressing the gaps in financial planning by meeting consumers where they are – online. Thus, the rise of fintech apps enabling consumers to forgo traditional banking models and embrace digital tools to handle money matters. This has become particularly important to underserved consumers who experience banking differently.
Younger generations are open to using AI-based tools for money management, but they still value human input from parents and financial advisors.
On this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Lilah Raynor, CEO of Logica Research, explores the money management habits of Gen Z and Millennials and sheds light on AI's impact on financial services.
Embracing Natural Curls: The Rise of the Natural Hair Market with Stephanie LaFlora
Over 60% of the population has curly hair, but not everyone loves their curly locks. Cultural norms in the U.S. tend to equate attractiveness and professionalism with straightened hair, while natural coils are often stigmatized as too ethnic and unprofessional. There is a hierarchy of hair texture, with straight hair sitting at the apex. Consequently, this creates pressure for one to conform to land their dream job and live an ideal lifestyle. But the tide is turning, particularly among Black women tired of subjecting themselves to harsh chemical relaxers that have long been associated with increased risks for diseases, prompting a rise in products catering to their natural hair needs.
In general, however, consumers are becoming more aware of the chemicals used in common beauty products and asking more questions. They are reading ingredient lists and scouring product reviews to educate themselves, and many are pivoting to clean and inclusive brands due to what they learn.
Legislatively, the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair), now legal in 24 states, prohibits employers, labor unions, and employment agencies from discriminating against any employee “on the basis of hair texture or protective hairstyle associated with race.”
People feel more empowered now than ever to embrace their authentic selves, including their natural, curly hair in all its glory. As demand soars, more CPG brands should take note, research, and engage with this emerging market.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Stephanie LaFlora, Co-Founder and CEO of Crownhunt shares insight into the natural hair market and how brands targeting black and brown consumers need to show up.
How Market Research Can Help Brands Connect with Black Consumers with Pepper Miller
Mainstream media often focuses on the economic and racial disparities that plague Black communities, and brands misunderstand and misrepresent Black Americans in advertising. Despite this, Black Americans are a resilient consumer group with $1.6 trillion in purchasing power and undeniable influence on American culture.
But reducing Black Americans to their economic potential is a disservice to their value as people. Because they speak English and have acculturated in many ways to various circumstances, often to access better opportunities or for safety, there is a tendency to roll them into the mainstream instead of seeing them as a unique demographic with their own set of values, experiences and behaviors. And even within the Black population, it’s important to note that Black consumers in the U.S. are not a monolith. Like Hispanics and Asians, Black Americans are diverse — from skin tones to language, culture rules to mores. One in 10 Black consumers living in the U.S. is foreign-born, bringing with them the cultural nuances of their countries of origin.
The diversity of Black American sub-cultures makes it essential for marketers to close the gap of misunderstanding about the Black consumer collective through market research and insights.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Pepper Miller, president and senior analyst at Hunter-Miller Group, returns to the podcast to discuss the importance of market research in understanding underrepresented consumer segments and her new book, “Let Me Explain Black, Again.”
How DEI Helps Companies Build Early Career Talent Pipelines and Strengthen Employer Brands with Henal Majethia
The workforce is evolving, and with it, expectations of companies to be more inclusive in their hiring and retention practices. Younger generations, particularly Gen Z, are entering the workforce with a strong sense of self-confidence and a clear idea of what they want in a work experience. They are willing to pass on a job, even if it pays well, if it does not align with their values or create a supportive work environment.
So how do companies compete for talent? Post-pandemic, many attempted to attract younger demographics by dismantling their cubicles and building open workspaces with pool tables. Then the pandemic shifted how we work. Offices were shuttered, and employees worked from home, creating the “work from anywhere” culture many companies now find contentious. Gen Z, on the other hand, has fully embraced it and seeks to align with companies that value work/life balance and offer opportunities for growth and development.
But job candidates don’t just want employers to dismantle their cubicles. They expect companies to aid in the dismantling of systemic racism and other pressing issues plaguing society, like climate change. Developing an employer brand that appeals to Gen Z requires a visible and vocal commitment in these areas. With seasoned workers aging out of the workforce, taking their institutional knowledge with them, the balance of power has shifted to young job candidates, making those commitments essential.
Gen Z is the first multicultural majority generation in U.S. history. They are tomorrow’s leaders, and the onus is on employers today to create an early career talent pipeline to replace outgoing talent.
That won’t be easy, especially for companies unwilling to evolve with culture. In the past, the employer sat in the seat of power, and now it’s the candidate, and they aren’t asking about pool tables. They want to hear about the companies’ DEI goals and progress, employee resource groups (ERGs) and the annual DEI report. Failing to make this information accessible could jeopardize the employer brand.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Henal Majethia, Diversity Recruiting Manager, University Relations at Eastman, discusses the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in building healthy early career talent pipelines and strengthening the employer brand.
Meet Menal Majethia
Henal (“hen-null”) Majethia began her career after graduating from the University of Tennessee at Amazon Fulfillment, supporting Operations, Supply Chain, and Distribution, and later launching the Operations University Recruiting initiatives for the East Coast. In this role, Henal supported US and CA hiring goals and was able to spearhead the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and HSI (Hispanic-Serving Institutions) recruiting presence. She was exposed to DEI during this tenure. Upon completing graduate school at Northeastern University, Henal joined Eastman, where she continues leveraging her skills in early career talent and DEI in her current role.
How to Use Adaptative Marketing Strategies to Engage Communities and Build Brands with Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence
Today’s discerning consumers crave personalized marketing experiences in which they feel seen and heard. The paradigm has shifted, and brands looking to stay ahead of the curve are working to foster genuine connections with consumers by committing to inclusivity in products and services and participating in meaningful community engagement. This is particularly important for hard-to-reach demographics, like multicultural consumers, who have endured generations of misrepresentation and underrepresentation in advertising.
While traditional advertising revolves around reaching the masses, often at the expense of the consumer experience, network marketing, on the other hand, leverages person-to-person interactions by independent sales teams to directly engage communities. Popular beauty brands like Avon, Mary Kay and Beautycounter have harnessed the power of this model, often referred to as multi-level marketing, to build global billion-dollar enterprises.
Yet, disparities between corporations and communities persist. There lies a need for adaptive strategies that bridge these gaps, ultimately culminating in enriched consumer experiences.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence, founder of Dr. Raymona H. Lawrence Coaching, LLC, explores the intersection between brands, communities and marketing strategies.
What You Need to Know About the Bilingual Bicultural Hispanic Market with Maria Twena
The American ethos of “individualism,” which prioritizes self-reliance, independence and frugality, has tremendously impacted general market advertising strategies. Marketing to Hispanic consumers, however, requires a different approach. The Hispanic ethos embodies collectivism, emphasizing the belief and practice of interdependence and interconnectedness among individuals. Twenty-eight percent of Hispanics live in multigenerational homes where bilingual-bicultural family members typically serve as digital sherpas for Spanish-dominant loved ones who need assistance with online purchasing decisions and online/offline searches.
Interestingly, when Hispanics search online, they prefer to search in English, particularly among the highly acculturated. Marketers may misinterpret this to mean that English-dominate or English-proficient Hispanics are receptive to general market ads when they are not. While advertisers may be reaching Hispanics with these ads, they are not truly connecting with them if they are not brand loyal. And how can they be brand loyal if they do not see themselves reflected in the campaigns? At that point, it becomes a transaction driven by price or availability, not a genuine connection with the brand.
To effectively engage with the bilingual-bicultural Hispanic market, brands must embrace and understand the importance of community, family, and shared experiences. Rather than solely focusing on individual benefits, marketers should emphasize these cultural values in their marketing campaigns. Highlighting how a product or service contributes to the collective well-being and fosters connections can resonate more deeply with Hispanic consumers.
In this episode of The New Mainstream Podcast, Maria (Lopez) Twena, Chief Marketing Officer at Adsmovil and children’s book author of the MariVi the Master Navigator series, discusses the importance of cultural values like collectivism to marketing to bilingual-bicultural Hispanics.
For more Hispanic Consumer insights, get the free report, “The Hispanic Market is not a Monolith but it is Collective,” presented by Publicis Media, Adsmovil and ThinkNow. Download it here.
Meet Our Guest:
Maria (Lopez) Twena, Chief Marketing Officer, Adsmovil
Maria (Lopez) Twena serves as Chief Marketing Officer of Adsmovil, a leading minority-owned and certified mobile advertising and digital media pioneer.
An award-winning marketer with extensive expertise in technology, digital media, and branding, Twena has over thirty years of marketing acumen. Prior to joining Adsmovil, she served as CMO of Entravision Communications and as CMO of Pulpo Media.
Widely recognized for her expertise in branding, positioning, and multicultural consumer segments, Twena’s accolades include receiving the ADCOLOR Award (2009) for her groundbreaking achievement in identifying, segmenting, and targeting bilingual/bicultural Hispanics while at MRM (McCann Worldgroup). There, she founded a discipline that developed Best Practices for advertising to the Hispanic bilingual/bicultural cohort.
She has served as a Board Member of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies and as a faculty member of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). She is also a ThinkNow Advisory Board Member. Twena is a graduate of Loyola University of the South (B.A. Psychology) and the University of New Orleans (M.A. Mass Communications, with a specialty in Film and Television).
She has also authored a children’s book and TV series: MariVi, the Master Navigator Series, which follows its heroine, MariVi, a bilingual/bicultural character, and her family, the Abascals, as they adapt to life in the U.S. The first of the MariVi television series premiered on Nuestra.TV in April 2023.
Will AI Modernize the Insights Industry? Here Are the Pros and Cons with Rick Kelly
The future of AI may be uncertain, but one thing is clear, it will fundamentally transform how we do business and deliver value to clients. The technology is constantly evolving, pushing boundaries and challenging our preconceived notions. This rapid evolution sparks a sense of anticipation and enthusiasm across industries. But it also raises concerns and uncertainties about how to adapt to these changes effectively and responsibly.
In the insights industry, AI has the potential to revolutionize the process of gathering and analyzing data. AI-powered tools and algorithms can enable researchers to derive valuable insights from data faster. This newfound efficiency allows for quicker and more confident decision-making. Testing and evaluating multiple opportunities in a fraction of the time through AI is another advantage that can lead to new innovative strategies that drive market success.
Despite the advantages that AI brings, there are also legitimate concerns. Some industry professionals worry about AI replacing human panelists and the potential biases embedded within AI systems that may lead to "hallucinations" or false interpretations. The fear of losing the human touch and intuition in favor of automated processes creates uneasiness and resistance to adopting AI solutions, prompting calls for cautious integration to ensure AI technologies are designed to augment human capabilities, not replace them.
On this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Rick Kelly, Chief Strategy Officer at Fuel Cycle, discusses the impact of AI on the insights industry and Fuel Cylce’s new partnership with ThinkNow to amplify multicultural audiences.
Driving Sustainable Change Through DEI and Employee Engagement with Sue Schmidlkofer
June presents organizations with opportunities like Pride and Juneteenth to actively engage with and support diverse communities. But demonstrating a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion requires a consistent and continuous effort at all levels of an organization if it’s to foster an inclusive environment in which people feel valued, seen and heard 365 days a year.
At the heart of that commitment are the individuals within the organization who greatly benefit from a sustained effort to foster inclusivity – employees. Typically, within inclusive cultures, employees are more engaged, which impacts retention and productivity, ultimately benefiting the bottom line. When employees carry the values of diversity and inclusion outside the workplace into the community through volunteerism, for example, they amplify the organization’s commitment, generating positive brand sentiment.
Organizations can also partner with external groups such as nonprofits and civic organizations to develop relationships and implement programming that brings long-term benefits to marginalized groups, not the occasional performative headlines.
Post-2020, there was a rush to quickly onboard DEI programs in fear of public backlash. But many organizations have since learned that doing it right is far better than doing it quickly.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Sue Schmidlkofer, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at UPS shares DEI best practices for actively engaging employees in driving sustainable change.
Meet Our Guest: Sue Schmidlkofer is the Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at UPS. In this role, she oversees the company’s global strategy centered around its mission statement, ‘You Belong At UPS.’ Monitoring workforce diversity aspirational goals, supporting more than 200 Business Resource Groups, and developing top talent are her key areas of focus in 2023.
Throughout her 28-year career at UPS, Sue has held a variety of roles primarily within Human Resources in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and currently at the global headquarters in Atlanta. Sue serves on the board of the Georgia Diversity Council, the Atlanta Diversity Management Advocacy Group, and The Drake House, a non-profit organization that supports women and their children experiencing homelessness. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Spanish and a master’s in Business Management and HR. Outside of spending time with her family, her interests include reading, writing, baking, and tennis.
Navigating the Intersectionality of Organizational Culture and Change Management with Alissa Lieppman
During the Fall League Meeting in 2022, the National Football League announced enhancements to its diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives across its 32 clubs and the league office. Essential to the success of these initiatives is culture, and people are at the center of culture. Peter Drucker is often credited with saying that "culture eats strategy for lunch" due to the influential role of organizational culture in driving employee engagement, retention, and performance, which ultimately has a profound impact on the bottom line.
Organizations approach culture differently, but those that do it well are open and willing to cultivate psychologically safe spaces that foster trust and transparency and honor vulnerability. Since organizational culture and business operations are interconnected, removing barriers presents opportunities for employees to participate in driving that culture. It empowers them by making them feel part of something bigger than their current job role.
Employee resource groups, led by employee volunteers, are incredible development opportunities to cross-collaborate, create unique business synergies, and foster a sense of belonging. Those synergies, however, cannot exist in a silo and must be diffused throughout the organization. Communication is vital to culture building, particularly when an organization is undergoing change management.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Alissa Lieppman, Vice President, Head of Culture & Business Operations for NFL Media at the National Football League (NFL), shares insights on how the league effectively navigated the challenges of an office relocation while also emphasizing the importance of culture on change management.
Promoting Health Equity: Overcoming Implicit Bias in Public Health with Denise Evans
May is Maternal Mental Health Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about the intersectionality of motherhood and mental health. It serves as a reminder that behind the joy and anticipation of becoming a mother, there may also be hidden struggles and challenges that need to be acknowledged and addressed, like access to quality care, particularly for Black women.
Women of color frequently encounter healthcare providers who hold unconscious biases that impact the quality of care they receive. These biases can lead to misdiagnoses, inadequate pain management, dismissive attitudes, and a lack of culturally sensitive care. Such experiences jeopardize the physical health of women of color and erode their trust in the healthcare system.
In a recent report released by the CDC , 89% more women died from pregnancy-related issues in 2021 than in 2018. Black women are nearly 3 times more likely to die than White women and 2.5 times more likely than Hispanic women. The majority of these deaths were preventable.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Denise Evans, Principal, CEO & Founder of Consult Me, and Senior Learning & Development Specialist at Corewell Health, discusses the impact of implicit bias on Black maternal health and how to advance health equity in public health.
Meet Our Guest:
Denise Evans is a trained facilitator, public health educator, and Truth Racial Healing Transformation practitioner. She has specialized training in health equity and social justice, cultural intelligence, and unconscious/implicit bias, as well as technologies of participation facilitation. Denise serves as a content expert for the National Healthy Start Association and the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality and served the National Association of County & City Health Officials and state and local health departments on issues of equity, justice, bias, diversity, belonging and inclusion.
For the past 25 years, she has worked diligently to connect community organizers, faith-based organizations and public health professionals from New York City to Los Angeles in a collective effort to disrupt systems of oppression and build a more equitable future for those living in our nation’s most vulnerable communities. Ms. Evans is a two-time past chair of Spectrum Health’s (now Corewell Health) System Inclusion Council and a founding member of the Greater Grand Rapids Racial Equity Network.
The Mechanics of Effectively Engaging Asian American Survey Panelists with Iris Yim
Implementing a multicultural marketing strategy is one of the most impactful ways brands can tap into the new mainstream. The U.S. consumer market is speeding toward a multicultural majority. Marketers are tasked with gaining a deeper understanding of these diverse consumer segments and crafting messaging that appeals to them and motivates them to action. Hispanics comprise the largest ethnic group, while Asian Americans account for about 7% of the U.S. population. Among them, Chinese, Asian Indian, Filipino, Vietnamese and Korean are the largest groups.
But marketing to Asian American consumers can be challenging for some marketers, as two-thirds of this group are foreign-born. This demographic difference means their motivations, preferences, and purchasing behavior may differ significantly from their U.S.-born counterparts. Similarly, researchers must be mindful of these differences when conducting consumer surveys and providing insights to marketers, as insights that apply to U.S.-born Asian Americans may not apply to foreign-born Asians.
In general, online sample providers have not kept pace with the consumer market's changing dynamics to the same extent as they have done to reduce fraud in the industry. Many researchers recruit survey respondents in English only from the general market, resulting in a lack of representation of diverse consumers on panels and low incidence rates.
On this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Iris Yim, Principal and Chief Strategist at Sparkle Insights and Board Member and Vice President of the Asian American Advertising Federation, delves into the mechanics of effectively engaging Asian American survey respondents and the impact it has on multicultural marketing.
Meet Iris Yim:
Iris is a seasoned researcher well versed in both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. Her experience in research across different industries and cultural segments makes her a versatile researcher that approaches research in a holistic and innovative way to solve clients’ business problems and uncover insights.
The types of studies Iris have conducted include market opportunity assessments, customer satisfaction, attitude and awareness, ad testing, positioning, segmentation and new product development. She has experience in a wide range of industries including CPG, travel and leisure, financial services, automotive, and healthcare.
Iris is the Research Chair of the Asian American Advertising Federation and serves on the Supplier Diversity Committee of the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing, affiliated with Association of National Advertisers. She is an alumna of the RIVA Training Institute and holds an MBA from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in public relations from the University of Southern California.
Beyond the Hype: Genuine Commitment to DEI in the Beauty Industry with Mia Talavera
The racial reckoning of 2020 brought diversity, equity, and inclusion to the forefront, although the concept itself is not new. Unfortunately, many brands have taken advantage of this movement for their benefit, resulting in broken promises and hollow commitments that have undermined their reputation. However, for brands like LVMH, there is an urgent need to approach DEI with genuine commitment and intentionality, actively embracing cultural differences to enhance the employee experience and drive business results.
For Benefit Cosmetics, an LVMH brand, DEI expands beyond human resources to developing inclusive products and other elements that impact all facets of the organization. This culture shift is important as the U.S. consumer market becomes increasingly diverse, blurring the lines between DEI and multicultural marketing.
Implementing DEI is not only the right thing to do from a moral standpoint but is also a savvy business move. Brands that fail to tap into the purchasing power of diverse communities, particularly Black and Hispanic consumers, are missing out on a significant opportunity.
Yet, the beauty industry still lacks a broad spectrum of cosmetics that cater to the diversity within these groups. It's essential to look beyond race and gender and start meaningful conversations around other dimensions of diversity, such as ability and sexual orientation. Brands have a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the barriers that underrepresented groups face and use their privilege to empower them.
Mia Talavera, Director of Global Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion at Benefit Cosmetics (LVMH), stops by The New Mainstream podcast to share her insights on the urgent need for genuine commitment and intentionality concerning DEI at the organizational and product levels.
Meet Our Guest:
Mia Talavera is a high-performing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leader passionate about inspiring positive culture change by designing and driving global DE&I strategies to promote and advance inclusion in the workplace. Mia has advised and consulted organizational leaders across various industries on leveraging innovative DEI initiatives, most recently driving real change within the beauty sector with Benefit Cosmetics.
Mia is the Director of Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Benefit Cosmetics (LVMH). She is also a certified Unconscious Bias Facilitator and earned a Bachelor's Business Degree and D&I certification from Yale Business School of Management.
Gender-Neutral Roles and Representation in Advertising and the Workplace with Dana Rapoport
The global economy runs on transportation, and if that transportation moves people or things and needs service and maintenance, technicians are doing the work. Yet less than 3% of employed technicians are women and a major contributor to that statistic is the stereotypes around who "can" or "should" be a technician.
Gendered roles and responsibilities, from the workplace to the home front, slam the doors of progress and perpetuate a narrative of exclusivity. Breaking the cycle requires featuring people from various backgrounds in different circumstances. This is especially crucial for marketers to connect with contemporary consumers, notably Gen Z, who reject conventional societal norms. That's why brands such as Ulta Beauty showcase both male and female models in their advertisements, and it's no longer newsworthy for men to wear skirts on the red carpet.
Why Partnering with DEI Consultants Can Drive Meaningful Change in Your Organization with Ali Sheehan Mignone
Regardless of size, many organizations struggle to implement effective diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. This challenge can be incredibly daunting for smaller organizations that may not have a dedicated HR department or the necessary expertise in this area. Working with DEI consultants can help these organizations overcome these obstacles.
DEI consultants have specialized knowledge and experience in a wide range of areas, particularly in talent acquisition, training and development, policy creation, and culture change. By leveraging their expertise, organizations get guidance in creating and implementing DEI initiatives that will help them reach their goals.
However, organizations need not be DEI experts to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Rather than trying to navigate this complex and ever-evolving field independently, organizations can serve as a conduit for DEI expertise to enter their workplace by utilizing consultants.
On this episode of The New Mainstreet podcast, Ali Sheehan Mignone, Head of People, Diversity, and Inclusion at Theatre Projects, discuss how outsourcing DEI can help small teams improve their workplace culture and diversity initiatives.
Breaking Down Barriers: Creating Inclusive Workplaces Through Behavioral Change with Tanya Diaz-Goldsmith
Companies prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion often experience higher rates of productivity and increased profits. That diversity goes beyond racial and ethnic differences, however. Diversity of thought is equally important, which drives innovation and creative problem-solving.
From a talent management perspective, fostering an inclusive workplace is essential to attracting and retaining talent and developing talent, particularly for marginalized and underrepresented groups. The process begins with acknowledging that these groups require programs specifically designed to build equity within an organization. While people generally have a shared humanity, understanding that systemic “isms” have moved the finish line for marginalized communities is essential to advancing equity.
DE&I initiatives existed before 2020, but post-George Floyd, many organizations have stepped up their commitments, partly because it's the right thing to do but also in fear of public backlash. An increasing percentage of consumers want to shop with brands that prioritize DE&I. Similarly, a growing number of consumers are willing to stop frequenting a store that does not publicly and consistently support diversity and inclusion. It is not just consumers unwilling to support a brand that does not meet DE&I expectations. Prospective and current employees within an organization are hyper-aware of this, and they use it to decide whether to take a job or not or stay or leave their current jobs.
Ultimately, an organization's culture is not inclusive if people are invited into a space unwilling to change. People need a sense of belonging to feel included and authentically accepted for who they are. But creating that environment in an organization is challenging because it is not easy to change hearts and minds. People have deeply ingrained values and beliefs, which make behavioral change difficult.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Tanya Diaz-Goldsmith, Director of Talent Development & Diversity for Related Companies, shares how DE&I programs focusing on behavioral changes can foster inclusive workplace environments and increase employee retention.
Tanya Diaz-Goldsmith is the Director of Talent Development & Diversity for Related Companies. She leads Related’s diversity efforts, working to embed best in class diversity and inclusion practices into all facets of the business in order support the company’s commitment to advancing equity. Since joining Related, Tanya has developed robust strategies to promote diversity that prioritize a holistic, people centric approach and makes use of her decades of experience in real estate and nonprofit. She continues to leverage her background to build an organizational culture that inspires and supports ideation, innovation and inclusion. An enthusiastic and passionate advocate for DE&I, Tanya is known for her commitment to increasing diversity within the real estate industry.
Can Impact Investing Level the Playing Field for Diverse Founders? with Jessica Salinas
Impact investing has emerged as a powerful tool for directing private capital toward social and environmental causes while generating financial returns for investors. This approach is particularly relevant for black and brown entrepreneurs who often face systemic barriers that limit their access to capital and resources. Many of these entrepreneurs are creating businesses that address social and environmental challenges faced by their communities, such as access to affordable housing, healthcare, and education. However, they often struggle to secure the funding they need to grow and scale their businesses.
Despite the data documenting the opportunity gap for diverse founders compared to their White counterparts, there is a persistent narrative that suggests no correlation between race and ethnicity and business enablement. Yet, their funding journey varies significantly and getting people to buy into social impact as a business strategy isn't easy.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Jessica Salinas, Chief Investment Officer at New Media Ventures, discusses how impact investing can empower diverse entrepreneurs and contribute to a more just, equitable, and sustainable society.
Market Researchers: Empathy Activists Dismantling Untruths with Rob Volpe
Dynamic storytelling is a powerful way to inspire others to take a desired action. For companies and brands, this could mean purchasing a product, attending an event, or signing up for a subscription service. Consumers, who share their perspectives with researchers on what they want and need, play an influential role in shaping these narratives.
By leveraging quantitative and qualitative research, researchers get a 360-degree view of the consumer, which fosters cognitive empathy. In a sense, researchers are empathy activists entrusted with sharing knowledge about consumers to help brands make better marketing decisions that drive engagement.
Cognitive empathy works to dismantle judgments and biases. Researchers engage people through surveys, focus groups, and other data collection methodologies and offer insights that reveal stereotypes, biases and untruths. Marketers must act on those insights and deliver relevant marketing campaigns based on truth.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Rob Volpe, CEO of Ignite 360 and author of Tell Me More About That: Solving the Empathy Crisis One Conversation at a Time, shares how cognitive empathy can foster diversity and inclusion in the insights industry.
Training NextGen BIPOC Youth for STEAM Careers Can Close the Wealth Gap with Dr. Hassan Brown
Florida’s recent block of an Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course for high school students sent shockwaves across academia and enraged supporters. Providing all students with access to diverse educational opportunities broadens their perspectives and fosters empathy for each other’s plight. To limit those opportunities is to limit their growth.
Limits lead to disparities between educational environments, resulting in barriers to learning for some, and privilege for others. As a result of these inequities, Black and Brown communities have disproportionate access to advanced curricula like STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics), which are essential to achieving high-income careers and establishing generational wealth, which could alter the trajectory of underserved and under resourced communities.
On this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Dr. Hassan Brown, founder of Career Catalyst, talks about his journey into ed tech and the importance of training the next generation of BIPOC youth for STEAM careers.
About Dr. Hassan Brown:
Dr. Hassan Brown is the Chief Executive Officer of Career Catalyst, an education technology and multimedia endeavor within the Kapor Center, designed to cultivate confidence in young people of color from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue academic and professional STEM opportunities, increasing their odds of being full participants in the future of work and innovation economies, leading to more gainful employment and economic security.
Brown is passionate about bridging the gap between social justice, workforce education, and emerging technologies. He has served as the director of Harvard Innovation and Ventures in Education (HIVE) and has also been a startup advisor for the Harvard Initiative for Teaching and Learning (HILT), and currently serves as a startup advisor for Headstream, an accelerator from SecondMuse that focuses on youth wellbeing and centering youth voice in the discourse around emerging technologies.
Dr. Brown holds a Bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College, Master’s degree in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Masters in Education from Hunter College, and Doctor of Education Leadership degree from Harvard University.
From Vision to Value, Creating Scalable Employee Resource Groups with Illianna Acosta
Volunteer-led Employee Resource Groups aim to foster inclusion, belonging, and community among employees. An ERG with executive sponsorship, a clear vision, and shared values can increase employee engagement and be a vital component of a successful organization.
There are many different types of ERGs, and in recent years, organizations have focused these efforts on promoting diversity, equity and inclusion. Many of these groups center around employee populations disproportionately represented within an organization. Those tasked with leading these groups are the bridge between group members and organizational leadership. It’s a heavy lift, often without additional compensation, but it’s not without its benefits.
Participating in ERGs gives employees, particularly leaders of the group, access to various tiers of the org chart and opportunities to execute meaningful programming for persons who identify with those groups and the employee base as a whole. ERGs also facilitate professional development and the ability to showcase skills and capabilities, which can lead to job promotions and recognition. But key steps should be taken to launch and sustain an effective employee resource group.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Illianna Acosta, Senior Manager of Channel Sales and Global Co-Chair of LinkedIn’s Hispanic ERG, shares how ERGs can be used to create an environment of inclusion and how to measure their impact.
DEI and Executive Buy-In: Why Hiring and Multicultural Marketing Are At Risk with Dominique Dickson
Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been at the forefront of public consciousness since 2020. While these tenants were commonly known in academia, awareness among the general public is relatively new. Many companies and brands, in particular, are now grappling with balancing consumer expectations for DEI and navigating their learning curve.
DEI doesn't exist in a silo, however. It's not a department or a destination – it's a journey that winds through every aspect of an organization. It takes the total commitment of executive leadership for DEI to permeate an organization's culture and show up in its practices, from hiring diverse talent to launching inclusive marketing campaigns. This is particularly pertinent for firms interested in multicultural marketing. Firms with little to no representation of diverse professionals will find it challenging to attract multicultural consumers, and these firms may also find it harder to attract qualified candidates. Like consumers, job seekers want to work for an organization that shares their values, especially Millennials and Gen Zers, who comprise a large percentage of today's talent pool.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Dominique Dickson, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager at Heidrick & Struggles, explains why executive buy-in is crucial for building an inclusive workplace culture, attracting diverse candidates, and achieving better business outcomes.
About Our Guest:
Dominique Dickson is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager at renowned executive search and leadership consulting firm, Heidrick & Struggles. She began her career there in 2016 as a member of the Global CEO & Board practice that manages recruitment of the world's top leaders across a wide range of industries. Dominique was promoted to the internal DE&I function at the firm in 2021. Prior to joining Heidrick, she held various corporate operations, communications, executive support and project management positions in the legal, asset management and business consulting industries.
Is Your Talent Pipeline Diverse? Your Marketing Tells the Real Story with Carole Smith
The difference between organizations that implement diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives well and those that stumble is intentionality. Two years after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, people of color are still waiting to see systemic change economically, politically and socially.
Companies and brands that employ millions of workers can make a tremendous impact here if that influence is wielded to take a stance on social justice issues, level the playing field for black and brown workers, and increase representation in marketing and advertising.
That work begins with the talent pipeline. Organizations that intentionally fill the pipeline with diverse candidates are more likely to hire employees with diverse backgrounds. That diversity impacts culture, innovation, creativity and, ultimately, business outcomes.
For marketers, when hiring, it’s important to remember that what’s happening inside the organization often shows up on the outside. Without cultural competence and representation, inclusive marketing will be difficult to achieve. Simply put, failing to diversify your talent pipeline is why your marketing is missing the mark.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Carole Smith, Marketing Director and Executive Sponsor of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council at Aquent, discusses the role of diversity in talent acquisition and how it improves business outcomes.
Corporate Investment in Small Business, the Path to Business Equity with Roberto Martinez
Minority small businesses are driving the U.S. economy, particularly women-owned firms. Forty percent of U.S. businesses are women-owned. Black women represent the fastest-growing segment of entrepreneurs, and there are over 2 million Latina-owned businesses in the country. Large corporations have become increasingly interested in supporting small businesses over the last two years. Just recently, Macy’s announced plans to invest $30 million to help minority-owned businesses in retail scale, and there have been a number of other announcements.
What’s important to note here is that many of these companies are in it for the long haul. When minority businesses thrive, business owners and employees reinvest those funds in their communities. Thriving communities stimulate a healthy economy, resulting in more discretionary spending, benefiting all businesses. But companies looking to partner with minority-owned businesses must do so from a place of empathy and authenticity. How organizations show up in diverse communities matters. Helping small businesses scale isn’t a box to be checked, but a long-term commitment to business equity.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Roberto Martinez, Founder & CEO of the Braven Agency discusses the small business ecosystem and how corporate investment improves business equity.
Disability Inclusion: Are Your Online Surveys Accessible? with Timothy Cornelius
One in four adults in the United States lives with a disability. Yet, many aspects of society do not accommodate disabilities, and market research is no exception. When it comes to online surveys, people with disabilities are often left out of the conversation. The surveys do not adapt to their needs, so they are inaccessible.
Survey completion is one of the most important metrics for researchers. In the end, however, the primary objective should be to gather quality representative data. By failing to adapt a survey for blind or deaf people, for example, you imply that their opinions do not matter. Although that wasn't the researchers' intent, that's how it presents, and perception is reality.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Timothy Cornelius, founder of P3 Technology, discusses the importance of accessibility in online research and ways researchers can promote disability inclusion in online panels.
FinTech's Impact on Private Practice Growth with Mario Amaro
According to a 2020 study by the American Medical Association, fewer clinicians are starting their own practices and instead seeking jobs at hospitals or larger medical groups. The economic fallout of the pandemic hit private practices hard, and many are still struggling to get patients back into the office. Some clinicians are willing to forgo autonomy in favor of the paycheck security and benefits hospitals provide, particularly Black and Latino individuals, who may graduate with more debt and less support than their White counterparts.
Fintech innovations enable minority clinicians to reimagine private practice and use it as a means to return to their communities to start, scale, and sustain these small businesses and improve health outcomes in their communities.
Ease is an all-in-one financial practice operations platform that helps clinicians build new practices online in minutes, offering the first and only corporate card for private practices and other automated financial systems.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Mario Amaro, Founder and CEO of Ease, discusses how fintech can help clinicians accelerate the growth of their private practices and provide equitable healthcare.
Marketing to Bicultural Latinx Consumers with Silvia Li Sam
Consumption has changed since the pandemic, as consumers consider their lifestyles more deeply. Companies and brands are following suit, studying how their actions, systems, and beliefs impact the consumer dynamic and striving to be more inclusive in their marketing and advertising. However, not all consumers feel seen.
Latinx consumers in the U.S. are not a homogenous group. Marketers are accustomed to segmenting these groups by factors like country of origin but often overlook the biculturalism that exists among niche groups, like Latinx consumers of Asian descent who immigrated from Latin America to the States in the past few decades.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Silvia Li Sam, founder of Slam Media Lab (Slam), talks about her experience as a Peruvian Chinese American and how marketers must leverage research to understand the complexities of the Latinx consumer market.
Advancing Latino Health Equity Through Community Health Workers with Mariza Hardin
The patient journey starts with vulnerability. There is a need yet all too often within minority communities, that need isn’t met with adequate resources. Latinos, in particular, face several obstacles to accessing health care, from difficulties finding information in their native language to a shortage of Latino or bilingual doctors. Additionally, lack of transportation and reluctance to take time off work, alongside the fear of deportation for undocumented Latinos, further exacerbate the problem. As a consequence, some Latinos forgo care, and that decision could prove fatal.
To address these barriers and improve health outcomes for Latinos, it’s essential to understand their patient journey and identify the friction points, one being the lack of community navigators. Community navigators, more commonly known as community health workers, are the bridge between the healthcare system and patient care. Community health workers are essential to underserved communities as they attempt to simplify and demystify the complex systems that have historically ignored the needs of minority communities.
In Latino communities, these navigators are known as promotores de salud (promotoras). Promotoras play a critical role in educating Latinos and directing them to resources, like primary care physicians, which is in stark contrast to them relying on informal information sources like social media or family. These individuals, seen as trusted messengers, are often Latino and understand the plight of Latino families and make recommendations that align with the Latino lifestyle in efforts to close the health equity gap.
Zócalo Health has its finger on the pulse of Latino health care and champions the use of promotoras. Through its innovative virtual-first family medicine service for Latinos, it’s committed to helping remove barriers to healthcare by offering convenient, transparent, and culturally-aligned care to members.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Mariza Hardin, Co-Founder, Head of Strategy and Operations, and Erik Cardenas, Co-Founder, CEO of Zócalo Health, share the importance of promotoras (community health workers) in improving health care outcomes for Latino communities.
The Reckoning: Democratizing the Beer Industry with Jessica Infante
In 1978, former President Jimmy Carter legalized home brewing beer giving rise to what we now know as craft beer. There are currently over 9,000 craft breweries in the U.S. challenging legacy beer brands for market share and consumer mindshare. As beer has evolved, brand offerings have expanded to include non-alcoholic beers and non-beer products like hard seltzers. Beer drinkers have evolved as well. Alcohol consumption has soared, particularly among women ages 21-25 for the first time in history.
Yet, outside of oversexualized ads, the beer industry has largely ignored women in advertising and the c-suite despite the growing number of female founders of craft breweries like Golden Road Brewing and Jack A Lope Brewing Company. Bad behavior and gender disparities are not uncommon in the beer industry. Last year, a brave female founder took to social media to call out sexist and abusive behavior toward women in the industry, leading to resignations, firings, and a new perspective on women's contributions.
Culture and Opportunity Drives Surge in Hispanic Boxing Fandom
Sports fans have been predicting the demise of boxing for years, but lovers of the sport say that trope is played out. Boxing may be controversial, but its fans love the heated rivalries and public feuds that make the headlines, and they're willing to pay for ringside seats.
Latinos are one of the consumer groups driving this craze that often goes unnoticed. While boxing may be declining in popularity among other demographics, it's thriving with Hispanics thanks to the likes of former boxer turned promoter Oscar De La Hoya and the new generation of boxing's elite, like Javier Fortuna, Ryan Garcia, and Canelo Alvarez. Boxing is the ticket to a better life for some Latinos, and for others, it is a cherished tradition passed down from generation to generation, as families gather to watch the fights and cheer for their heroes.
The fandom is paying off for some networks. Of the 25 largest pay-per-view events, 14 featured Hispanic fighters. Spanish-language networks Telemundo and Univision broadcast boxing regularly, while English-dominant networks can't seem to commit. Boxing has proven to be a viable and accessible medium for brands interested in reaching Hispanic audiences.
Roberto Andrade, a feature writer at ESPN, joins us on The New Mainstream podcast for a casual conversation about Hispanics and boxing and why pairing the two just make sense.
Diversity In Market Research, Attracting the Next Gen with Misty Wilson
Attracting young, diverse talent to the market research industry is essential to its longevity. But this task has proven difficult to date, and it may be a matter of timing. Engaging younger generations in college could lead to greater interest in careers in insights. But that requires intentionality on the part of research companies.
Engagement is just half of the story, however. America’s youth are increasingly diverse. Gen Z is the first majority-minority generation. As they come of age and enter the workforce, they look to work for organizations that prioritize diversity and inclusion. Recent findings show that 68% of Gen Z define diversity and inclusion as racial equality, followed closely by gender equality at 67%, with differently-abled equality rounding out the top three, at 48%. Among Millennials, 69% define diversity and inclusion as racial equality, but fewer define it as gender equality(58%). Differently-abled equality and LGBTQIA equality are tied for third.
Why is this important? If the market research industry hopes to attract younger generations, it must adopt a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Young multicultural adults must see themselves reflected in leadership, so they have something to aspire to. Ultimately, the industry's culture must support diversity and inclusion in principle and practice by creating equitable and inclusive workspaces were people from all backgrounds have a sense of belonging.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Misty Wilson, Director of Marketing at Greenbook, shares perspectives from her journey as a woman of color in market research and what the industry needs to do to attract diverse talent.
Multi-Hyphenated Creator Economy Disrupts Influencer Marketing 1.0 with Donnelle Branche
From Coachella to Taco Bell, creators are monetizing their crafts to bridge the gap between consumers and brands. Powered by social platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Twitch, the influencer market for branded and platform deals is projected to reach $28 billion by 2026. And the models keep changing. Hashtag sponsored posts – influencer marketing 1.0 - represents where we’ve been. Brands are now leveraging the creator economy in new ways, paying them for their insights into what’s trending and developing that content to post to the brands’ platforms instead of the influencers’ news feeds.
Equity partnerships have also increased. Multi-hyphenated creators, many of whom are athletes, entertainers, or personalities, are being approached by brands to become ambassadors for their products in exchange for equity in the companies, e.g., 50 Cent and Vitamin Water and P. Diddy and Ciroc Vodka.
Other creators have expanded even further, like The Kardashians, Rhianna, and LeBron James, who have gone way beyond being Insta-famous or making music or moves on the court to launching media empires that are challenging conventions. The next frontier, the metaverse.
Donnelle Branche, Talent Manager at Digital Brand Architects, joins us on The New Mainstream podcast to discuss the evolution of influencer marketing and how multi-hyphenated creators are changing the game.
Keeping it 200: How Latinos Navigate the American Experience with Vanessa Vigil
Latino immigrants once feared that practicing their native cultures would make them seem "less American" and thus less accepted, so they tried to acculturate to American ways of life quickly. Fortunately, most Latinos have evolved in how they see themselves. They embrace the concept of the "the 200%" (100% Latino and 100% American) and the ability to be ones authentic self without abandoning who they are. Language has been one of the biggest indicators of that. In the past, immigrant parents may have insisted that everyone in the household speak only English and stifle their native tongue.
But today, bicultural bilingual households across the U.S. are thriving, primarily driven by younger generations who refuse to confirm or apologize for their lineage. Gen Z is the first multicultural majority generation, and Latinos have the highest rate of interracial marriage.
So how should marketers engage this demographic? Connecting with the new mainstream requires understanding the dynamics they navigate daily, taking into account their cultural lens, contextual environments, and behavior. To do that, they must be invited to the conversations and a part of the decisions being made. By relying on people with these experiences, you can assess the authenticity of your marketing efforts and decrease the chance of missing the mark.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Vanessa Vigil, General Manager, mitú, distills the notion of "the 200%" and why it's important for marketers to dive deeper into multicultural consumer insights.
Challenging Gender Stereotypes, Showing Greater Empathy with Lauren Triplett
After taking a Behavioral Economics class at Florida State University, Lauren Triplett knew she had found her passion. Marketing bridges the gap between brands and consumers by helping marketers understand why people do what they do and purchase what they purchase. Lauren found this fascinating and spent the next few years building her expertise, including starting her own digital marketing agency and working for less to gain experience.
Fast forward a few years, amid a global pandemic, Lauren landed a job at one of the most beloved brands in the world, Mattel.
As Associate Marketing Manager of the Barbie Global Brand at Mattel, Inc., Lauren’s team is responsible for the strategy behind the Barbie family segment, including Barbie, her sisters, pets, and the Netflix series. And they have harsh critics – Generation Alpha.
This young consumer group, powered by the pocketbooks of their Millennial moms and dads, represents a treasure trove of revenue for the brand. Like their predecessors, Gen Z, these "mini millennials" also challenge the brand to address societal stereotypes, particularly around gender identity. Mattel has released inclusive product lines like Barbie Fashionista featuring dolls of varying body shapes, abilities, hairstyles, and gender-neutral dolls.
“The more multifaceted we can make characters, the more kids will be interested and build empathy naturally because they see people that look different on the shows and products they like,” says Lauren. The intention is to take inclusivity from being a checkmark in a box to a storyline featuring loveable characters kids will be interested in regardless of background.
Tune in to the latest episode of The New Mainstream podcast as Lauren Triplett, Associate Marketing Manager, Barbie Global Brand at Mattel, Inc. and founder of BiteSized Consulting discuss the evolution of gendered toys and how inclusivity leads to greater empathy.
Easy Solves, The Wrong Approach To D&I with Whitney Dunlap Fowler & Shazia Ginai
People want easy solves. It’s not uncommon for companies and brands to retain the services of an expert in multicultural marketing or diversity and inclusion to be told what to do rather than coming to the table with what they want to do. You have to set the intention. While you may not know how to get there, doing the soul searching needed to uncover the vulnerabilities within your organization is a step in the right direction toward developing a more inclusive culture that impacts how you work, how you hire, and how you market.
Ironically, marketers turn to market research to give them insight into specific audiences. But the challenge within the research industry is its lack of diversity, and it can have a real impact on results. When there is a lack of representation when developing sample frames, for example, the questionnaires lack objectivity. And when you only pull in researchers of color when you want to run a multicultural campaign, your general market campaigns lack that perspective.
Researchers of color are first and foremost researchers and should be considered team members, not just leads on special projects or multicultural checkpoints. The industry needs more people of color to fill the vacancies on these teams. Essential to attracting diverse talent is an inclusive recruiting strategy.
Awareness of market research careers should be raised on the campuses of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and jobs posted on inclusive job boards like Mimconnect. When candidates are hired, they must see themselves growing at the company. If there isn’t representation at the top in key leadership positions, it sends the wrong message.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Whitney Dunlap Fowler, founder, A Touch of Whit and Insights In Color and Shazia Ginai, CEO, Neuro-Insight and board chair, Colour of Research (CORe), share their experiences in the market research industry, and how intentionality is key to driving diversity.
Serving Up Authenticity in Food and CPG
Food in America is multicultural. It’s a fusion of various tastes, ingredients, and cooking styles from around the world that culminate into a rich flavor profile of cultural diversity. But at its core, it’s American food, representing the swiftly changing demographics in the U.S. as it trends toward a majority-minority nation.
Brands in the food and CPG space are tasked with understanding the consumers driving these trends and showing up authentically, in-person and online. It's becoming increasingly important for brands to take intentional actions like staffing stores and restaurants to mirror the communities they’re serving. Birria lovers craving authenticity, for example, may give a restaurant a side-eye if no one in the kitchen serving up these tasty tacos is Latino. To them, insiders serve as translators, a bridge between the brand and the consumer communicating the needs and desires of the community.
But authenticity often gets misinterpreted in food. Dishes made generations before will naturally evolve based on what is available now and life experiences. Yet authenticity does drive purchases in CPG and food, from ingredients to labeling, especially among Hispanics and African Americans.
Luis Cachua, Director of Multicultural Strategy and Brand Partnerships at Food Beast, stops by The New Mainstream podcast to discuss the importance of authenticity in the food and CPG space and the love of birria tacos!
Brand Allies: Seeing Multicultural Consumers As People First, Not Dollar Signs
Multicultural marketing is finally being embraced as a necessity, not a nice-to-have. Marketers have traditionally been interested in marketing to diverse audiences around the release of Census data when they realized the changing demographics of American consumers.
That’s changed within the last two years. Consumers have been more vocal, taking brands to task for cultural insensitivity and stereotypical themes. In response, there has been a more consistent focus on multicultural.
That focus extends beyond just reaching consumers to engaging minority-owned companies, particularly media companies. It's unlikely that a brand can fully engage a diverse group if they are not supporting companies within that group. For example, it would be beneficial for a brand targeting Black consumers to work with a Black-owned media company with access to Black consumers. Understanding that many minority-owned firms may be smaller and unable to deliver the reach necessary makes collaborating with larger firms essential, opening the door for robust supplier diversity programs.
But it’s important to note that building relationships with diverse audiences is a long game. Loyalty comes over time, and engaging multicultural audiences thoughtfully and respectfully builds goodwill. Consumers want brand allies who care about what they value and stand in solidarity with them, not brands that just see them as dollar signs.
Tune in to this episode of The New Mainstream podcast where Marina Filippelli, CEO of Orci, discusses the importance of brand allies to building consumer loyalty and why partnering with minority-owned media companies matters.
Marina drives both business strategy and day-to-day operations for multicultural initiatives at Orci, working closely with her team to deliver engaging, effective campaigns that help global brands like Honda, Acura, Dole, VCA, Anheuser Busch, Chevron and ExtraMile build meaningful relationships with diverse targets in the U.S. and Latin America.
With roots in Mexico and Argentina, she has been passionate about communicating with the Latinx community since she first launched her career at Orci, ultimately returning after leading the multicultural division of Heat and client teams at Zubi Advertising and Conexión.
Closing the Digital Divide for Latinx Consumers
When the pandemic shut down schools and sent students into virtual learning environments, the disparity in access to reliable technology was apparent. Families in underserved and under-resourced communities found themselves at a disadvantage, having limited access to devices and internet services within households, putting students who are already at risk in jeopardy of falling further behind. If education is supposed to be the great equalizer that levels the playing field, then the digital divide tipped the scales.
Technology has the power to build equity in underrepresented communities in areas of education, healthcare, and economic development. For Hispanics, who at 60 million represent about 18% of the U.S. population, technology is the key to fostering upward mobility. By 2050, 25% of Americans will identify as Hispanic, and 6 out of 10 will be Millennials or younger. One out of three women will identify as Hispanic by 2060. So the future is clearly multicultural, but the opportunities for advancement aren’t keeping pace. Hispanics are underrepresented in Fortune 500s and in technology sectors, and Latinas face a significant pay gap.
Education is the long-term economic strategy, and technology is part of the equation. Creating pathways for Hispanics to learn technology skills helps diversify the talent pipeline for corporations and creates favorable conditions for Hispanics to launch tech startups. Unity is power, and it will take a collaborative effort by local, state, and federal governments and the private sector to ensure digital equity for everyone.
Lili Gangas, Chief Technology Community Officer, Kapor Center and co-founder of LTX Connect discusses ways tech companies and government can close the digital divide in minority communities and create access to equitable education.
Multicultural Marketing, A Strategy Not A Tactic
2020 was a year of highs and lows. For marketers who have always maintained a commitment to diversity and inclusion, the calls for social justice strengthened their resolve. For many others, however, the momentum of acknowledging the problem gave way to frantic, reactive statements that quickly fizzled out or failed. A year later, companies realized their approach to diversity and inclusion couldn’t be summed up in a social media post. Instead, it required a concerted, internal and external effort to fundamentally change who they are and how they present in the world.
There are concerns, however, that the push for representation will wane. That multicultural marketing will be used as a tactic and not a strategy requiring an investment in research, time, and attention. But the next generation of leaders, particularly Gen Z, the first majority-minority generation, is poised to reshape multicultural marketing as we know it. Gen Z is consuming the brands that align with their values, and they are making it clear to employers as they enter the workforce what their expectations are around diversity and inclusion.
In the past, multicultural marketing has typically focused on Hispanics, not representing the full diversity of the multicultural diaspora. Companies have started paying more attention to their multicultural audiences in the last couple of years. They now include Hispanics and Black and Asian consumers, who may be smaller in size but are enjoying increased purchasing power and population growth, as well as stepping outside of race to include ability and the intersectionality of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The first step to reaching these audiences is identifying the gaps in your data. Most organizations are surprised to find they have more insights than they thought but just haven't connected the dots.
LaToya Christian, Managing Partner at GroupM, returns to The New Mainstream podcast to discuss the evolution of multicultural marketing over the past two years and why it’s not too late for brands to begin their multicultural marketing journey in 2022.
Hypercultural Latinx, The Next Generation of Growth
Younger and more tech-savvy than their majority counterparts, Hispanic consumers present significant growth opportunities for brands looking to expand their consumer base. Yet, even with larger budgets and bigger teams, many of these brands stumble through their multicultural outreach. Worse case, they ignore them entirely, as is the case with the “hidden generation.”
Hypercultural Latinx, a term coined by Latina venture capitalist Ilse Calderon, principal at OVO Fund, is defined as second-generation Gen Z or young Millennials between the ages of 18 to 30 who identify as 100% Hispanic and 100% American. They fully embrace the traditions and culture passed down to them by their Hispanic parents while fully immersing themselves in American culture, forming a pseudo-culture authentic to how they live their lives.
This consumer cohort uses social media and other digital platforms to discover and drive trends, embrace and share culture, and engage and influence their communities while cultivating friendships and spheres of influence with other demographics.
Despite the benefits of activating this audience, larger companies with decades of red tape find it difficult to convert this segment. Startups, who may be led by members of this community or closely aligned with them, cultivate relationships with this cohort from the onset, giving them an advantage.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Ilse Calderon, discusses why the Hypercultural Latinx consumer represents the next generation of growth for emerging brands.
Micro Cultural Insights Deliver Hyper Engaged Audiences, Higher Conversion Rates
Fast forward a few years, this pioneering media expert, fearless marketing executive, and groundbreaking content producer with credits like "Survivor," "Top Chef," "The Biggest Loser," and "Castaway" to her name, launched Native Tongue Communications (NTC), the first and only minority-and-female-certified media agency in the U.S. committed to bringing to life innovative, thought-provoking and culturally relevant ideas that authentically connect brands to diverse and growing populations.
NTC's success can be attributed to its concept of "micro-culturalism," which means picking up on the nuances that differentiate even homogeneous groups. By doing a deeper dive into micro-cultural insights, marketers have an opportunity to build a more engaged group around a common theme and increase the probability of sales conversions, versus pursuing a broader theme, which may yield the numbers but lack consumer engagement.
Some marketers reject the notion of micro-culturalism for fear of being "too niche." Yet, data shows that the companies who make an effort to understand consumers at the micro level cultivate more meaningful connections by creating more relevant experiences, which yields better results.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Marissa Nance, Founder and CEO of Native Tongue Communications, discusses how micro-cultural insights can help marketers use empathy to improve marketing performance.
Norwalk Brew House, Craft Beer On Purpose
But it’s not just the taste of craft beer that’s driving demand among enthusiasts. The brewers’ backstories add an interesting flair that appeals to the palette and instills pride in shopping local. Brewers like East LA native Ray Ricky Rivera, founder and brewer of Norwalk Brew House beer company and co-founder and operator of SCC Distribution Network. His career in music led to a craft beer revolution infusing cultural influences with Latino inspired flavors to create limited edition brews whose proceeds support under-resourced communities.
Yet despite success stories like Ricky’s, who along with six other homebrewers founded the largest Latino homebrew club in the United States, SoCal Cerveceros, a recent study by the Brewer’s Association sampling 500 randomly selected breweries show that only 2.2% of craft beer makers are Latino and 93.5% are Non-Hispanic White. However, according to Rivera, the opposite is true of craft beer drinkers. The industry is seeing a significant uptick in the number of people of color and women enjoying the taste of their local brew.
As the demographics in the United States continue to evolve, the growing influence of multicultural consumers will create more opportunities for Latino brands. But it all boils down to authenticity. Ethnic consumers are more likely to seek products that reflect their heritage, and Non-Hispanic White Millennials are embracing more ethnic flavors in the foods and beverages they consume, expanding the market for brands like Norwalk Brew House. Non-Latino owned brands attempting to enter the market with Latino inspired flavors should avoid stereotyping if they want to authentically connect with Hispanic consumers.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, master brewer Ray Ricky Rivera delves into the Latino craft beer scene and shares how Norwalk Brew House delivers on its promise to make good beer to do good things.
America Goes Multicultural, Get Ready For The New Norm
The label “Hispanic” represents a diverse mix of cultures, traditions, and ideals that define this young consumer group wielding its purchasing power in support of culturally sensitive brands. But it's not just Hispanics. American consumers are a collective of labels, from race to ethnicity, religion, age, to sexual orientation. Organizations tasked with tapping into new markets will look to the collective to seek opportunities, exposing the need for cultural research and a deep dive into how diversity, equity, and inclusion show up within an organization.
Multicultural, multifaceted, and complex, U.S consumers are redefining identity and challenging stereotypes. Brands can either pivot and play or resist and run the risk of being left behind. Multicultural marketing is no longer a value add. It’s a business imperative for marketers navigating the new norm.
Marcela Gómez, the founding partner of the Culture Shift Team, talks about the importance of culture and innovation and the future of multicultural marketing on this episode of The New Mainstream podcast. As the head of CST’s multicultural marketing and public relations division, Marcela has worked with universities, public utilities, packaged goods companies, consumer, corporate, nonprofit, and business-to-business clients in transportation, education, government, banking, and health care.
Supplier Diversity: Connecting Entrepreneurs to Economic Opportunity
However, supplier diversity often falls short on the data. It’s widely known that diverse suppliers are not given the opportunities to contract for public sector work at the rate of their non-minority and male counterparts despite the explosive growth of entrepreneurship among minority and women-owned firms. What’s not as clear is how much organizations lose, financially and socially, by failing to be dogged in their pursuit to diversify their supply chains. Research shows that consumers are more likely to engage a brand that publicly commits to diversity and inclusion. In general, when buyers give more firms a chance to compete for businesses, it’s better for business.
Diverse suppliers are often told that the key to getting contracts is relationship building. That’s the way we do business, right? Relationships – who we know. The flaw in that logic is that it’s not an equitable process. How many opportunities do diverse suppliers miss because they aren’t in the right rooms, not on the golf course? Relying solely on relationships leaves a lot of talent on the sidelines to the detriment of everyone involved.
In this episode of The New Mainstream, Jason Trimiew, Director of Global Supplier Diversity at Facebook, shares his perspective on the economic and social impact of supplier diversity and the power of intentionality.
Facebook has now spent more than $1.7 billion cumulatively with U.S. companies certified as minority, women, veteran, LGBTQ, or disabled-owned in categories spanning creative services, network infrastructure, facilities management and more.
Death Tech: The Lalo App Creates Ad-Free Story Hub For Grieving Families
After his father's death, Juan Medina started to wonder if he’d gotten to know his father as well as he should have. This internal struggle, common in the grieving process, drove him to seek tools to learn more about his past. So, he used popular genealogy and DNA research sites like Ancestry and 23andMe to trace his heritage and get in touch with relatives in his native country, Bolivia. Juan recorded these conversations and curated photos, eventually creating a biography of timelines and maps to share with family members. The response to the project was so positive that he wondered how he could scale it, and the short answer was – tech.
Lalo taps into the emotional aspects of death – memories, photos, stories, even recipes – things that can get lost when death occurs in a family. The startup provides a safe, ad-free space people can go to intentionally preserve family memories instead of focusing on death and loss.
Juan was encouraged to launch the app on iOS first. But for multicultural audiences, specifically Hispanics and African Americans, the first point of entry to the internet is a mobile device. Hispanics and African Americans in the U.S. primarily use Android, and over 90% of smartphone users in Latin America do as well. So, Lalo is being developed for Android and iOS to ensure inclusivity. Taking the iOS route would have been a huge miss for making Lalo accessible to black and brown audiences.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Juan Medina, Founder and CEO of Lalo, shares the origin story of the death tech app designed to create a hub for families to preserve the memories of deceased loved ones.
Using Ground Truthing to Combat False Narratives and Challenge Assumptions
Addressing COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, for example, isn’t a matter of just pushing out messaging on the vaccines’ effectiveness. It’s also necessary to uncover and comprehend the narratives people are being exposed to and have erroneously accepted as truth, so messaging can be created to combat misinformation.
Trusted messengers within target communities are vital here as those influencers are more likely to have the social currency to shift the conversation. With the pandemic, that “ear to the ground” approach contributes to harm reduction.
Whether it's vaccinations or consumer packaged goods, multicultural marketing has and will continue to evolve as the demographics in the U.S. evolve. Seventy percent of Generation Alpha (born 2010-2025) will be bi-racial. So if companies and brands aren’t preparing for that now, they’re missing out on the opportunity to start building relationships with an entire generation of multicultural consumers and future voters.
The term “multicultural” or “multiculturalism,” however, when looking at it broadly, is inadequate in describing the complexity of people of color in the U.S., which varies not only in ethnicity but also by culture, region, and numerous other factors.
This complexity demands that marketers change the conversation around identity and belonging in the next iteration of marketing and advertising. No more assumptions based on last name, zip code, how people sound, or where you think they’re from. Ground truthing fills the gaps and provides the cultural context to support the findings.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Michelle O'Grady Caballero, Founder and CEO of Team Friday, introduces the concept of “ground truthing” and how it can be used to combat false narratives and challenge assumptions.
How Strategists Use Cultural Context, Data, And Point of View To Tell Stories
Even though some overlap between market research and strategy may occur, they are two distinct disciplines. Data informs while insights inspire. It is the strategists' responsibility to discern nuances in the data and codify campaign strategy to engage targeted segments of the population, in-culture.
About eight years ago, however, the total market approach threatened in-culture marketing. Essentially a synonym for general population, total market made few allowances for diversity and inclusion. While the popularity of the approach started to wane a few years later, it was the cultural awakening of 2020 that sealed its fate. Or so we thought. More consumers became culturally aware last year, but many brands still struggled to identify and connect with subcultures present within the general population authentically. Brands subscribing to the total market approach casts a wide net, diluting their messaging and alienating multicultural consumers.
As a result, the total market era was plagued by cultural missteps and marketing faux pas because brands were simply out of touch.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Deadra Rahaman, Vice President of Brand Strategy at Huge, discusses the relationship between market researchers and strategists and how the total market approach threatens in-culture marketing.
Using Sensory Research, Social Media, and Search To Explore Cultural Shifts
When consumers share their experiences online or inquire online through search, marketers often make assumptions based on that online behavior but neglect the sensory component. The how, what, and why of our actions are shaped by culture. The more we experiment with new things and elaborate on those experiences, the more culture becomes malleable, bending towards new dimensions.
Understanding this intersectionality is critical to any multicultural marketing strategy. Marketers, however, tend to over-rely on common cultural elements like values and language and underinvest in subtle elements that evoke nostalgia, like colors, music, even smells. Brands that dial into these cultural nuances consider how people feel and build those elements into the brand experience to create meaningful connections.
By making insights immersive and inspirational, marketers build cultural intelligence attuned to the dynamics driving culture.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Kalil Vicioso, founder of Tiny Hat Consulting, explores the intersectionality of sensory research, social media, and search and how they help marketers build cultural intelligence.
How To Use Intrapreneurship To Champion Diversity & Inclusion Within Organizations
Resources & Relationships: Empowering Diverse Talent
Marketers and researchers of color, for example, seek equity in pay and more seats at the table, as well as equal opportunity. In response, many companies create employee resource groups facilitated by black and brown employees where like-minded professionals can connect for emotional support. These employees assume the additional burden of running these groups without additional compensation and nearly no new opportunities to impact their career trajectory.
But black employees aren't the only ones calling out hollow DEI claims and blanket messaging. Consumers of color demand representation in marketing. Savvy marketers are tapping into the value chain of specificity for a more customized consumer experience instead of taking a broad approach. Culture impacts all aspects of human life. The narrower the focus, the greater the message's resonance for the intended audience and those who appreciate the effort to demonstrate authenticity.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, we talk with Sequoyah "DataBae" Glenn, founder of the Black Marketers Coalition and 924 CoOperative: A Multicultural Marketing Agency, about empowering black marketing and research professionals and the need to redefine the general market.