Carlie Beard | Arts and Entertainment Editor
The words diversity and inclusion are often used in just about everything seen on a daily basis.
Being inclusive seems to be the main focus of top companies. New roles such as Diversity and Inclusion leaders are being implemented to ensure that there are more diverse workplace environments. However, does having these roles really create a space for people of different races and socioeconomic backgrounds?
In media, ad campaigns have noticeably taken steps to showcase multicultural people. Some even reference this as “Inclusive Marketing.” However, being inclusive is not only showing people with different skin color or features, but it is also about featuring things such as people with different genders, disabilities and ages.
In 2017, sportswear leader Nike presented an ad campaign titled “Equality.” This ad showcased major athletes such as LeBron James and Kevin Durant and promoted equality on and off the court. Colin Kaepernick also was featured in an ad campaign following his controversial protest by kneeling during the national anthem at an NFL game in 2016. Nike faced tons of backlash for standing by Kaepernick. In return, Nike saw an increase in revenue by 31 percent, according to Time.com.
Whether the campaign is successful or a complete failure, companies face a huge risk when it comes to taking on a certain issue.
However, not all companies have been as successful as Nike when it comes to inclusive marketing. Pepsi featured an ad with supermodel Kendall Jenner in 2017 that caused huge controversy. Jenner was in the middle of a protest, and she was seen offering protesters Pepsi cans and also offered the police officers one as well. Some thought this ad was extremely insensitive, especially during the intense era of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In regards to the fashion industry, diversity and inclusion seem to be a huge “trend,” from plus-size models gracing front covers to more multicultural models beginning placed on billboards. Seeing people from different backgrounds is important and is needed to create a more diverse world. So, it’s great that companies work to bring diversity to the fashion industry because it hasn’t always been that way.
Beverly Ann Johnson was the first black woman to be on the cover of Vogue in 1974. Since then, there have been other trailblazing black models such as Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks who have paved the way for other models of color.
However, fashion has a way of loving the culture of different races but won’t feature the culture’s people in their fashion shows or ad campaigns. In 2019, several fashion houses were criticized for their lack of diversity or insensitive choice of the way their clothing was designed.
The major fashion house Gucci faced backlash for creating a sweater that resembled blackface. Toward the end of 2019, Gucci created a scholarship called the Gucci Changemakers Scholarship which was dedicated to funding college students of color and providing money to nonprofits.
Unfortunately, a question must be asked: Is diversity being normalized or is it to meet a consumer’s needs in order to stay a top competitor in the market?