February 04, 2020

The following is republished with the permission of the Association of National Advertisers. Find this and similar articles on ANA Newsstand.

A world that is inclusive, values varying perspectives, and prioritizes the growth of all is a world all marketers should foster. Leaders should be especially focused on this goal, and the ANA Marketing Futures Podcast Series highlights just these kinds of leaders, who come from all backgrounds to discuss the future of marketing, current issues, trends, and areas of growth.

As a number of episodes make clear, women in leadership roles are inspiring to young and emerging talent within the marketing world, illustrating that it's possible for people of all genders to find their place within the industry.

For decades, Barbie has been one of the most iconic toy brands on the planet. However, recently the doll that played an integral role in the childhood of millions began to struggle to keep pace with the changes in society. As a result, the brand suffered.

A marketing veteran at Mattel, Lisa McKnight revamped Barbie and gave the doll a modern makeover, such as pushing the brand to introduce a variety of body types, skin colors, and storylines. Lisa shared the journey that led her to become the Global Head of the Barbie brand, and discussed the key insights that led to the transformation of an icon.

McKnight shared a few tips from her 20-year career at Mattel, stressing the need for optimism, stating, "What's kept me at Mattel is I've always believed success is just around the corner." Confidence and determination are key to effectiveness, she believes.

It's not just about determination, however, but listening to your consumers. McKnight spoke about the importance of diversity at Barbie, and how the company finally built a diverse group of dolls at 55 percent, saying, "Get close to [your] team and listen to everyone's perspectives."

McKnight also explained the managers of a team need to lead by example and weather the good and bad times; bad publicity is bound to happen, especially with products that are making waves, like Barbie. McKnight simply stated, "Be a cheerleader for your team."

On another episode, Netta Jenkins, VP of global inclusion at The Mosaic Group and Ask Applications, stressed the importance of hiring, training, and empowering underrepresented employees. Jenkins shared how brands could take active steps to create an inclusive environment for their employees.

As the ANA Marketing Futures Podcast Series reported, a "recent study that looked at the 3,000 largest publicly traded companies in the U.S. found that businesses that hire and retain a diverse workforce across the ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation spectrum were better at developing innovative products and services."

So what was Jenkins' big piece of advice? Work for an organization that "values passion." Jenkins explained how she loves technology companies, because it's "about you being as innovative as possible, and helping yourself grow, not just the company grow." It's important, for both employees and employers, to "always challenge people's thought process."

Jenkins also went on to explain her definitions of diversity, since it's not enough just to use the word, stating, "When I take a hard look at the tech sector, there's disparities, namely, [there's] a gap with women, people of color, and people who are differently-abled. When I think of inclusion, it's about bridging the gap — and making sure everyone at the company is part of the conversation.

"How can we make sure their viewpoints are valued? It's also good for organizations to make sure people are being given a platform, as well as retooling promotions and opportunities."

Good talent shouldn't stagnate, and it's unfair for employees to work without growth. While these key tips might seem like common sense, these are words of wisdom that everyone, whether a director, manager, or coordinator on a team, should always remember — for themselves and others.

"2 Women in Marketing Share Their Tips on How to Create Diversity." ANA, 2020.


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