Azeem Ahmad on diversity and inclusion in marketing in 2021

It’s 2021. I’m tired. How much longer are we going to go through the cycle of mistake, apology, “we’ll be better in future” and then nothing – or worse – silence?

I appreciate that changing the landscape of diversity and inclusion in marketing will take time, but we’re in a pandemic, and it seems as if the industry is taking a step backwards – and not forwards.

Why do I think that? Some major marketing events that have gone virtual are either inviting the same Black speaker to talk repeatedly, often delivering the same talk (with a different title) and expect people to pay money for them – when they can go and watch a replay of it for free on YouTube elsewhere. Other events remain largely white, and one event I found in particular in the UK, has had an entirely white line up every month since the UK first went into lockdown, in March, last year. I’ve spoken about what I think on that topic here.

I completely recognise that I’m in a great position where I can speak about this, and have done so at conferences in the past. One of the main drivers of doing so, is having privately spoken to marketers of colour, who don’t feel they are able to. Reasons range from a lack of confidence, which is understandable, to not feeling like there is a point, or nothing will change – specifically, that it shouldn’t be their responsibility to address diversity and inclusion in marketing.