Whether you're a man, woman, black, white, asian, gay, straight, transgender, disabled, unusual - you have probably experienced varying levels of discrimination throughout your life, and more specifically, in the workplace.
Needless to say, there are some jobs, some industries out there that just aren't inclusive - whether it's their hiring standards, product development, or their advertizing, many people can find themselves alienated by certain brands because of who their target audience is and consequently who their target workforce is. It's natural in life to feel left out - to know a product isn't meant or designed for you, but to feel aggrieved nonetheless.
However, there are also those times when brands, or indeed entire industries have made egregious errors in judgement by excluding, deluding or discriminating against specific sections of the society. These companies below represent a core group that are focused on diversity and inclusion across the board and have gone out of their way to make sure nobody is left behind.
Target's multicultural business empire and attitude is widely recognized and easily recognized in every one of its stores. Diversity Inc had Target positioned at number 22 on its top 50 most diverse firms for reasons such as its willingness to promote Latinos at a much higher level than even those in the top 10 rankings. In terms of product - Target has never shied away from stocking brands that also celebrate and highlight diversity. It's a retailer that has consistently - through advertisements, merchandising and employment, continues to prove its ability to diversify.
Their hiring pledge is one you don't see on many company websites, and consequently, one worth mentioning:
“We believe diversity and inclusivity make teams and Target better. And we'll live that belief as champions of a more inclusive society by creating a diverse and inclusive work environment, cultivating an inclusive guest experience, and fostering equality in society." - Target
Product development and innovation have run Nike for the past fifty years. Having branded themselves the frontrunners in new sports' produce and discoveries, with the latest addition to their lines, they are certainly surpassing expectations.
This week saw the release of test shots for their new 'Pro Hijab' for Muslim women - a contentious and hotly-anticipated product, but one that Nike drove relentlessly to get into production. Brand ambassadors for the Hijab include figure skater Zahra Lari and triathlete Manal Rostom. The product comes after an explosion of spending in the Middle-East caused a shift in marketing strategies and advertisement spending by international brands.
The wealth of the region can no longer be ignored and neither can the consumer base. The 'Pro Hijab' is the first of many products I would imagine that will target this specific area for its wealth of resources and diverse culture.
Starbucks CEO caused ructions in the wake of Trump's immigration enforcement on Muslim- majority countries, after he pledged to hire '10,000 refugees' to the dismay and furore of much of the president's supporters. The announcement that came on January 29th aims to extend a hadn't to those displaced throughout the world in Starbucks locations from all 75 countries they operate in.
The pledge, and its meaning however are not revolutionary within the company. Starbucks hiring policies are perhaps some of the most inclusive and broad in the U.S. They continue to strive to hire as many veterans as they can, while also having a stellar reputation for hiring those with disabilities.
Executives from the company were also among those last year who came out vociferously against a radical anti-LGBTQ bill in North Carolina.
Lush received a huge wave of support in recent weeks for their Valentines Day ad-campaign which featured two gay couples taking bubble baths. The normalization and ease with which the couples mesh into the ad is perhaps the reason its garnered so very much support. LGBTQ communities have been angered previously by 'token' inclusion of the LGBTQ community in ads. However, the couples featured in the Valentines campaign are not only integral to the reel but made up some of the funnest and most wholesome moments, and refute any 'tokenistic' sentiment.
Photo: Lush Cosmetics
The iconic brand hired its first 'Coverboy' at the end of last year when James Charles, make-up artist extraordinaire headlined their lash equality campaign.
It wasn't just Charles however who caused a bit of a rouse in the campaign. A model wearing a hijab is also featured - highlighting again the need for further Muslim representation in ads like these. For too long the growing chunk of the beauty market being consumed by Muslim women and women in the middle-east as a whole has been ignored and its only in recent months that we are beginning to see western advertizing move on this front.
Ben & Jerry's
It's only in the last few years that social media has become a marketing force to be reckoned with, contending heavily with TV advertisements and direct marketing. Building a brand now relies on what you're tweeting, who you're retweeting, what your Instagram looks like and if your Facebook is allowed to remain idle for more than a week.
The Black Lives Matter Campaign was left very much out in the wind by brands across the board, whether it was to remain apolitical or because it was they were too lazy, very, very few brands get involved and needless to say it didn't go unnoticed.
Black Lives Matter. Choosing to be silent in the face of such injustice is not an option. https://t.co/6Vy0KHJeKU #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/pK96teLRhd
— Ben & Jerry's (@benandjerrys) October 6, 2016
The eponymous ice-cream giant Ben & Jerry's however refused to remain silent and tweeted about the lack of response from their fellow retailers. The politically active brand does not typically shy away from controversial social issues.
The tweet resounded heavily with a community that felt particularly aggrieved by the lack of movement from brands who are quick to get involved in other political movements - take for example the huge response from those that are currently dropping Ivanka Trump's clothing lines. Had the Black Lives Matter movement received as much attention as the #grabyourwallet campaign perhaps we'd be looking at a different political climate currently. For the most part part unfortunately it remained in the back seat in relation to other perhaps less important issues.
New parents re-entering the workforce are often juggling the tangible realities of daycare logistics, sleep deprivation, and a cascade of overwhelming work. No matter how parents build their family, they often struggle with the guilt of being split between home and work and not feeling exceptionally successful in either place.
Women building their families often face a set of challenges different from men. Those who have had children biologically may be navigating the world of pumping at work. Others might feel pulled in multiple directions when bringing a child into their home after adoption. Some women are trying to learn how to care for a newborn for the first time. New parents need all the help they can get with their transition.
Women returning to work after kids sometimes have to address comments such as:
"I didn't think you'd come back."
"You must feel so guilty."
"You missed a lot while you were out."
To counteract this difficult situation, women are finding mentors and making targeting connections. Parent mentors can help new moms address integrating their new life realities with work, finding resources within the organization and local community, and create connections with peers.
There's also an important role for parent mentors to play in discussing career trajectory. Traditionally, men who have families see more promotions compared to women with children. Knowing that having kids may represent a career setback for women, they may work with their mentors to create an action plan to "back on track" or to get recognized for their contributions as quickly as possible after returning to work.
Previously, in a bid to accommodate mothers transitioning back to work, corporate managers would make a show at lessoning the workload for newly returned mothers. This approach actually did more harm than good, as the mother's skills and ambitions were marginalized by these alleged "family friendly" policies, ultimately defining her for the workplace as a mother, rather than a person focused on career.
Today, this is changing. Some larger organizations, such as JP Morgan Chase, have structured mentorship programs that specifically target these issues and provide mentors for new parents. These programs match new parents navigating a transition back to work with volunteer mentors who are interested in helping and sponsoring moms. Mentors in the programs do not need to be moms, or even parents, themselves, but are passionate about making sure the opportunities are available.
It's just one other valuable way corporations are evolving when it comes to building quality relationships with their employees – and successfully retaining them, empowering women who face their own set of special barriers to career growth and leadership success.
Mentoring will always be a two way street. In ideal situations, both parties will benefit from the relationship. It's no different when women mentor working mothers getting back on track on the job. But there a few factors to consider when embracing this new form of mentorship
How to be a good Momtor?
Listen: For those mentoring a new parent, one of the best strategies to take is active listening. Be present and aware while the mentee shares their thoughts, repeat back what you hear in your own words, and acknowledge emotions. The returning mother is facing a range of emotions and potentially complicated situations, and the last thing she wants to hear is advice about how she should be feeling about the transition. Instead, be a sounding board for her feelings and issues with returning to work. Validate her concerns and provide a space where she can express herself without fear of retribution or bull-pen politics. This will allow the mentee a safe space to sort through her feelings and focus on her real challenges as a mother returning to work.
Share: Assure the mentee that they aren't alone, that other parents just like them are navigating the transition back to work. Provide a list of ways you've coped with the transition yourself, as well as your best parenting tips. Don't be afraid to discuss mothering skills as well as career skills. Work on creative solutions to the particular issues your mentee is facing in striking her new work/life balance.
Update Work Goals: A career-minded woman often faces a new reality once a new child enters the picture. Previous career goals may appear out of reach now that she has family responsibilities at home. Each mentee is affected by this differently, but good momtors help parents update her work goals and strategies for realizing them, explaining, where applicable, where the company is in a position to help them with their dreams either through continuing education support or specific training initiatives.
Being a role model for a working mother provides a support system, at work, that they can rely on just like the one they rely on at home with family and friends. Knowing they have someone in the office, who has knowledge about both being a mom and a career woman, will go a long way towards helping them make the transition successfully themselves.