There’s a lot of discussions and focus on the shift in marketing, about how consumers are going mobile or how they have increased expectations when it comes to website speeds and user experience.  These shifts are important and relevant however, there is a much wider spread shift that relates to marketing but also encapsulates how companies do business, who they work with and how they treat their employees.

The Microsoft Impact Summit in Toronto was an event dedicated to showcasing examples of how companies are shifting their mindset to incorporate inclusive marketing into their culture, products and their communication efforts.

Inclusive Marketing

Inclusive marketing is really about creating content that truly reflects the diverse communities that a company serves.  This is especially important for companies doing business in Canada or targeting Canadian consumers where immigrants represent over 20 percent of the total population.  Lynne Kjolso, the VP of Marketing at Microsoft, spoke about how companies who adopt a growth mindset and become customer-obsessed, diverse & inclusive, can make a bigger impact than the products and services they sell.

Lynne showcased a few examples of how an inclusive culture drives innovation and reaches people in ways that fuel long term loyalty and growth.  A great example is the Xbox adaptive controller designed primarily to meet the needs of gamers with limited mobility with the goal of making gaming more accessible.  If you’re a fan of the NFL you may have seen this Microsoft Super Bowl Commercial: We All Win which is an inspirational story of passionate young gamers rising to the top of their game with the Xbox Adaptive controller showcasing how accessible technology can help to level the playing field and create opportunities to include everyone.   

XBox adaptive controller

Xbox adaptive controller, designed for people with disabilities to help make user input for video games more accessible.

Creating accessible products and content that reflects the diverse population is a direction that all companies should be working towards.  By making their products and content easily accessible companies can not only reach a wider audience but also create an experience that fuels long term loyalty and growth.  Creating accessible products and content reduces bias towards any one set of people, and is a contribution to social change.

Good Is The New Cool

Bobby Jones, author of Good Is The New Cool and leading expert on marketing to Millennial & Centennial consumers, discussed how doing work that’s purposeful can lead to what he calls “corporate social opportunity” resulting in more engaged employees, enhanced relationships with consumers, and investment opportunities. Good Is The new Cool outlines a model with 7 pieces of advice. The model includes:

  1. Know Your Purpose
  2. Find Your Allies
  3. Think Citizens Not Consumers
  4. Lead With The Cool
  5. Don’t Advertise, Solve Problems
  6. People Are The New Media
  7. Back Up The Promise With The Proof

Bobby Jones then goes on to talk about purpose, and how some of the dominant brands describe their purpose.

Nike and Starbucks Logos

Nike’s purpose is to “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”, while Starbucks’ purpose is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time”.

Bobby cited celebrities such as Lebron James, Lady Gaga, and Beyoncé for their work. Lebron James recently opened a public school in his hometown, Akron, in order to give children the opportunity to learn and succeed in life. During the opening of the school, Lebron described it as ‘one of the greatest moments’ of his life’.  More and more, we see celebrities setting a platform and becoming activists for education, social and environmental issues.

It’s extraordinary to witness this change in the world of celebrities. These individuals are setting the stage for up and coming celebrities and showing what is greatly respected when they step outside of their talent and become activists for different issues. We’re excited to see this change evolve and how it will impact society.

During Bobby Jones’ talk, he mentioned that a study to find out how many people enjoy going to work was conducted. Can you guess the result?  Well surprisingly, 15% of the people said they were happy in their job, while 75% said that they were unhappy.

Major Tom team at the Microsoft Impact Summit

Major Tom team with Suelyn Howe, Sr. Marketing Manager, Corporate Americas, Microsoft Search Advertising (Center).

For companies interested in building inclusion into their products, services, and culture, here are 10 key inclusive behaviors you can take now to get the wheels in motion:

10 key inclusive behaviors

For companies interested in building inclusion into their products, services, and culture, here are 10 key inclusive behaviors you can take now to get the wheels in motion:

  1. Examine your assumptions
  2. Ensure all voices are heard within the company
  3. Address misunderstandings and the reason behind them
  4. Seek input from people with a variety of backgrounds to receive different viewpoints and opinions which will set you up for success
  5. Understand each person’s contribution to the project or to the company
  6. Make a habit of asking questions to get a better understanding of what someone is speaking about
  7. Listen carefully to the person speaking and respect everyone
  8. If you have a strong reaction, ask why
  9. Take action to reduce stressful situations
  10. Be brave

Living in a major city like Toronto with over 230 different nationalities and 51% of residents born outside of Canada, it’s refreshing to be part of a company like Major Tom, where we believe that diversity is good for business and encourage celebrating diversity in our workplace.  With a leadership team comprised of 70% women and a workforce that represents over 32 countries, we understand that creating an inclusive culture is an ongoing initiative that is challenging but just as much rewarding.