In the face of universal supply chain issues, rising inflation, and the escalating war in Ukraine, global financial markets have slipped into what appears to be a potential recession. Even cryptocurrencies, once seen as a hedge against global market volatility, are in a state of upheaval. With about half of its index made up of tech firms, the technology sector is also reeling as the Nasdaq plummets to historic lows. Despite these unfavorable economic conditions, I am confident that our company, founded amid the Great Recession, will continue to thrive.
My confidence is grounded in one simple phrase: diversity and inclusion.
In the summer of 2020, our country finally acknowledged the widespread discrimination Black people face in their interactions with law enforcement and society at large. The murder of George Floyd was a wake-up call to many Americans who began to question our institutions—and hold organizations that supported these institutions accountable. As organizations realized that the Black Lives Matter movement was not a flash in the pan, they began doing the hard but necessary work of kickstarting or revving up their diversity and inclusion efforts.
Consumers were and continue to be the catalyst for systemic change within organizations, taking to social media to call out performative displays of solidarity and being selective with their dollars. Our recent diversity and inclusion report found that 50 percent of consumers would spend their money with a company that supports diversity and inclusion efforts.
In recent months, much progress has been made in diversity and inclusion, from both a human resources and an inclusive marketing standpoint. Unfortunately, marketing—particularly multicultural marketing—is usually one of the first line items to get cut during economic difficulties. But this time is different.
Consumers are savvier than ever and expect the goods and services they buy daily to align with their personal values. This is particularly true of millennials and Gen Z. In the coming weeks and months, some companies may pull back from diversity and inclusion programs—but they’ll quickly realize that consumers aren’t interested in returning to how things used to be and will hold companies accountable if they do.
Organizations should not minimize investments in diversity and inclusion to weather this recession, nor use it as an excuse to defund their D&I programs. Doing so is not only morally wrong but can also negatively impact a company’s bottom line: studies show that diverse and inclusive organizations are more resilient and profitable. And from a marketing perspective, trading an inclusive marketing strategy for a total market approach can cost you relationships with the next generation of super consumers—Gen Z, the most diverse generation in our nation’s history.
So, if you want to weather this economic downturn, invest in the future of this country: diverse consumers.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Hispanic Executive or Guerrero Media.
Mario X. Carrasco is cofounder and principal of ThinkNow, an award-winning cross-cultural research technology company based in Burbank, California. The agency enables organizations to discover the cultural drivers that influence consumer decisions.
Under his coleadership, ThinkNow has launched several innovative initiatives including ThinkNow ConneKt, an on-demand audience segmentation tool, and DigaYGane.com, one of the largest and most representative Hispanic online panels in the industry.
In his ten years at ThinkNow, Carrasco has contributed several articles to Forbes, eMarketer, Quirk’s Magazine, Online MR Magazine, and MediaPost. NextGen Market Research named Carrasco its 2018 Industry Change Agent of the Year, and he has been recognized by the SBA as a Young Entrepreneur of the Year and an Emerging Leader.