The Virtual CMO

Diversity, Inclusion, and the Importance of Culture in Marketing with Taunya Renson-Martin

June 10, 2021 Eric Dickmann, Taunya Renson-Martin Season 5 Episode 10
The Virtual CMO
Diversity, Inclusion, and the Importance of Culture in Marketing with Taunya Renson-Martin
Show Notes Transcript

In episode 76, host Eric Dickmann interviews Taunya Renson-Martin. Taunya is an entrepreneur, writer, and Founder and Managing Partner of Mach Media. She leads a remarkable team of global professionals who are not only incredibly skillful but also super nice! Advising clients remain as Martin's passion as well, which is why you’ll still find Taunya creating and implementing strategic marketing communications programs to impact business for a variety of international companies. Strategy, creativity, service, and results are the four words that really light Taunya's fire!

Taunya Renson-Martin was born and raised in Washington, D.C. She lived in Belgium since 2000 and started Mach Media in 2007 after steadily earning a client base of multinational companies eager to capitalize on having big agency ideas and flawless execution combined with boutique agency personalized service. Taunya Renson-Martin and her team are proud to have expanded their operations to the United States, where they opened an office in 2016. Taunya is fluent in English, French, and Dutch.

For show notes and a  list of resources mentioned in this episode, please visit: https://fiveechelon.com/diversity-inclusion-importance-culture-marketing-s5e10/

A fractional CMO can help build out a comprehensive marketing strategy and execute targeted campaigns designed to increase awareness and generate demand for your business...without the expense of a full-time hire.

The Five Echelon Group - Fractional CMO and strategic marketing advisory services designed for SMBs looking to grow. Learn more at: 

https://fiveechelon.com


Eric Dickmann:

Welcome to The Virtual CMO podcast. I'm your host, Eric Dickmann. In this podcast, we have conversations with marketing professionals who share the strategies, tactics, and mindset you can use to improve the effectiveness of your marketing activities and grow your business. This week, I'm excited to welcome Taunya Renson-Martin to the podcast. Taunya is an entrepreneur writer, Founder and Managing Partner of Mach Media. Mach Media is a global, full service marketing communications agency founded in 2007. They create dynamic marketing and corporate communications materials for multinational companies. Taunya was born and raised in Washington, DC, but has lived in Belgium since 2000. She is fluent in English, French, and Dutch. And today we're going to talk about the importance of diversity, inclusion, and equity in the workplace. Please help me welcome Taunya to the program. Hey Taunya, welcome to The Virtual CMO Podcast. I'm so glad you could join us today.

Taunya Renson-Martin:

I am so glad and excited to be here, Eric. Thank you very much.

Eric Dickmann:

Could you just share with the audience a little bit about yourself and Mach Media?

Taunya Renson-Martin:

Sure. So I am an American living in Belgium. I have been living in Belgium for about 20 years now, and I started Mach Media, my marketing communications agency here in Belgium about 14 years ago. So when I first came to Belgium, I was freelancing, doing lots of copywriting, back in those days, I think 20 years ago, it was kind of exotic that you had somebody who was native English speaking, living in Belgium. And so I got all the copywriting worked on, it was maybe me and one other person. There are more English speakers here now. And that's kind of how my business kind of grew very organically, taking on that work. And then after a while, needing to have some support. So that's when I started Mach Mediaand I say it was very organic how I started it. I didn't really think a lot before I began it, but that's very typical of me. But because I didn't think a lot before I started it, and just jumped right in. Yeah, it was not daunting at the time that I was, you know, a foreigner trying to start a company in another country, where I didn't have the language and the knowledge and the background, I just kind of just did it.

Eric Dickmann:

You just did it.

Taunya Renson-Martin:

That's it, I just did it. So that's kind of one of my lessons. Just do it. Just do it. You'll figure it out. It's no problem.

Eric Dickmann:

I hear that from so many people who are entrepreneurs that, you know, you don't want to overthink these things. You just want to dive in and learn along the way, which is great. And I know you've built up the company to have multiple employees in multiple places around the world. And you know, as we dive into this whole topic of diversity and inclusion, I'm really curious as to when do you think things really started to change, and this became something that businesses really started to focus on?

Taunya Renson-Martin:

I would love to say that that would be prior to the big groundswell of The Black Lives Matters Movement from last year. I would love to say it was before that. Obviously people were thinking and doing things before that, but I just feel like we weren't having these kinds of conversations so openly until just last year, which is crazy. Crazy! Or do you think about it, and the history of the world that we're just now getting around to having these conversations so I want to say that it's just more out in the open. Uh there were probably many companies I'm sure many companies who maybe had beliefs on the topic of diversity were you know had wanted to do things, but kind of maybe kept it to themselves. Didn't want to say much about it because when you talk about it then it also breeds a lot of expectations. So they kind of kept it on the download let's say. But as of last year, one of the things that we learned is that if you're not talking about it, if you're not being very overt and you know what you want to do, what you intend to do, what you believe is right to do, then you still can be part of the problem because violence helps no one. So yeah I think last year.

Eric Dickmann:

Last year, yeah. I think it really gave companies and brands the opportunity to start speaking up and making their positions a little bit more well known. But you know the funny thing is in some ways is technology has really made the world a whole lot smaller. So diversity was just kind of happening because we're a global economy, people interact all over the world, many businesses have employees located in time zones that really means that they're somebody working almost 24/7, and so diversity in some ways was happening.

Taunya Renson-Martin:

Absolutely. I mean in my own company, we have a very diverse team, and again I wasn't very vocal about that. It was an intention that I had internally and I think it was an intention that my leadership team, we kind of all intuitively felt that that was the the right thing to do to have different perspectives et cetera. But we really never said it out loud or said you know we're told people what the plan was, you know. But as of last year, we felt that this was actually something that was worth a conversation. And to see where other people stood on the topic as well. And obviously when you do have people from all over represented on your team which is already a great, a great start. And then there's the topic of kind of inclusivity and does everyone feel included as part of the conversation? Are they leaving parts of themselves at home in order to fit in with the company culture? Do people have questions about the culture or lifestyle of others or if something is appropriate or inappropriate, is there the space to have those conversations? I think that's what's starting to also happen now. So that extra layer there.

Eric Dickmann:

Yeah and maybe just by means of definition, share a little bit what you know DEI, because we're starting to see this terminology used a lot more, and that's new terminology. At least it certainly is new for me. What does that really mean? What does that encapsulate?

Taunya Renson-Martin:

Right. So the the D, the diversity is you know obviously having people with different perspectives, backgrounds, walks of life, socioeconomic, gender, ethnic, religious, et cetera, so that's diversity. And then the E, which you know we had a discussion because some people were like why isn't it equality? Why is it equity, equality? And I guess the short answer there is equality is the belief that you can give everyone, everyone deserves to have the same thing. So you have someone who has no food and someone has a lot of food, and equality is you give them each a slice of pie. They get the equal amount. Whereas equity is you recognize that one person has a lot of food and you recognize that another person does not have any food at all, or at a disadvantage, and so you give the person who has a lot of food just enough pie that they need and you give the person who has not a lot of food a lot more pie to make up for the fact that they had nothing to eat at all. So that's this equity viewpoint and that's something that we focus on also within our company too. Again, its about celebrating you are different, recognizing that you are different, and recognizing that because you are different, there may be some things that you don't have access to due to any kind of systemic, uh yeah any kind of system or process that's already existing. And so what are we going to do about it? What do you want to do about it? So the I, inclusion, and that is uh you know you can have a diverse group but you can have a diverse group that is separated from each other, so that segregation., you can have a diverse group that is kind of asked to assimilate, so they're asked to all become the same and to leave parts of themselves at home. That's a way of diversity. But then there's also the inclusive part too, which is you can tell people that not only are they diverse but they can celebrate their diversity, and supposed to bring all of that to the table. And that diversity creates this new entity that has value in and of itself. So that inclusion and the right for people to bring their whole selves to work or to feel like they can be who they are at work, Uh is the inclusion aspect.

Eric Dickmann:

Well you know it's so interesting to me because the way it's being framed is so different. You know I think if we look back through history, there have been many different movements through time to sort of bring equality or to bring end segregation, doing like that. But we've also had things where we've talked about you know, quotas in school where there was a mandated need to sort of have representation from different groups. We terms like political correctness, you know we need to do things because it's the politically correct thing to do or In today's terminology, It's- woke, great, you know you have to be woke. But the core of this seems to be very different. It's not about a political statement as much as bringing diversity, having inclusion, working towards that equity is really something healthy for your company. It's not being done out of a political correctness, it's being done because this actually makes your company better.

Taunya Renson-Martin:

Oh absolutely. I mean the obvious stuff is you know how the people within your company work So you have access to more talent, greater talent pools if you open your net and cast wider. Um if you have an inclusive environment, it's a better work culture, people are more productive, people are happier, people will leave unless you can retain your talent longer. So that's kind of obvious. But then there's some stuff that's maybe not as obvious for us as marketers, I think that are really important. You know we talk a lot about defining who your buyer is, right? developindeveloping their personas and building a journey for your buyers. And unless you say my buyers are monolithic, or you know all the same race, all the same gender, have the same abilities or disabilities If they're all the same Okay Then I guess you can go very very narrow, but if your buyers could be people of different persuasions, different religions, different ethnicities, different genders, then you really need to be thinking am I developing communications or marketing that are actually excluding some people or making them feel not a part of what I'm selling or the other service that I am providing. And that's a place that people may not have thought very much of in the past. I mean I was I'm African-American so me growing up, I only had you know the white Barbie dolls, that's it. So I didn't Barbie dolls that look like me, you know? And didn't know it was possible that they would even ever make Barbie dolls that looks me. It was a big deal when the Barbie doll looked like me, it was like Whoa, but I was probably getting into my teenage years by the time that happened but it was still like Whoa. I mean seeing yourself in the things that you buy, in the ads on TV, in the stories that are being told, that completely transforms how you feel about the people who are telling that story or the brands who are giving you that service. It completely transforms and it gives another level of loyalty and a willingness to engage with that brand when you see yourself in their story. so shared That is money. Yeah, that is money, right. And And I think it's so interesting that you use the Barbie example, because before you got there, that was going to be my comment about Barbie. It's so funny that that sticks out in such a way. But I can imagine being a young girl and looking at toys and saying these don't reflect who I am and there probably wasn't anything intentional on the part of a brand to say we are going to make dolls that only look like one particular person, you know blonde hair, blue eyes, a woman. But the fact that they then recognize the fact that there are a lot of little girls that don't look like that and would like a doll but they can relate to more, that's a buying opportunity, that's something that the brand can expand and grow, it's not something that because of a political correct statement or wokeness, or whatever it may be, they're having to do something that ultimately hurts them. Yeah, I mean so many things, so many things, pantyhose. When I was growing up, pantyhose, the nude color pantyhose looked like, I looked like an idiot wearing them because my legs were completely different color than the rest of my arms and my face. I mean you know It's crazy stuff like that growing into, uh when I moved here to Belgium uh 20 years ago, I go into a shop to get things for my hair, nothing there. And even still today to be honest it's quite segregated. I have to go to special African shops to find things for my hair. My hair is not catered for in regular pharmacy type drug stores over here still, now. And it is becoming a more diverse community. So the day somebody figures that out, more money. Why would you cast such a narrow net? I don't know.

Eric Dickmann:

Well I've noticed this a lot as companies are refreshing their brand materials, whether they're updating their website or their collateral, you know it was pretty uncommon or it was pretty common I should say to see a lot of stock photography that was pretty white. it didn't really represent a lot of diversity, and now I think as you're seeing brands start to refresh materials, you're starting to see a more diverse portrayal of people that they use in their imagery, which quite honestly is a reflection of what you see at the shopping mall, walking down the street. It's a reflection of the world today where sometimes the imagery that was being used was not a reflection of reality at all.

Taunya Renson-Martin:

Absolutely. And you know not too long ago even here in Europe, when as I said, I used to intuitively feel things, like we should have some diversity and the imagery. And I would get comments like Ooh that's very American. You know having a representative from all the different, different ethnicity, that's very American, you know. That would never happen over here.

Eric Dickmann:

Yeah

Taunya Renson-Martin:

I'm happy to see that that kind of thinking is also

Eric Dickmann:

changing, yeah.

Taunya Renson-Martin:

outside the US as well. But and then it'd be goes beyond that. It's about you know the size of the people. I mean if you're looking at stock photos, you know we're looking at, are we getting people of different shapes and different sizes, and different heights, and with tattoos and no tattoos. And I'm like what is it to be real these days? Um we want things that are real And unfortunately stock photo has for a very long time not been very real. And I think it's getting a little bit better because they're starting to see the tides change as well, and they're starting to get more diverse representation and the footage. But that's just the images and then there's the language and how we talk about things. We have a client and we were helping to develop some patients pages for this client, and we were talking about prostate. And there was a lot of talk about him, him, him, but of course now we know that uh there are many people who do not identify as a Him, who also though still have a prostate. How do you know how do we manage that? How do we not disenfranchise those Individuals? And again it's just trying to be thoughtful in our approaches. And the answers are not always cut and dry, but firstly, the conversation is worth having and then giving some extra thought to what we might have just you know automatically that in the past is worth it because the more we know, the better we can, be Right

Eric Dickmann:

Hey, it's Eric here and we'll be right back to the podcast. But first, are you ready to grow, scale, and take your marketing to the next level? If so, The Five Echelon Group's Virtual CMO consulting service may be a great fit for you. We can help build a strategic marketing plan for your business and manage its execution, step-by-step. We'll focus on areas like how to attract more leads. How to create compelling messaging that resonates with your ideal customers. How to strategically package and position your products and services. How to increase lead conversion, improve your margins, and scale your business. To find out more about our consulting offerings and schedule a consultation, go to fiveechelon.com and click on Services. Now back to the podcast. Well you know I think you gave the Barbie example and I can also think back here in the States, you know we had a very large piece of legislation, The Americans with Disabilities Act. And that was a pretty big deal. There was a lot that went into that you know, buildings had to be changed, ramps had to be built so that people in wheelchairs could get up the stairs, you know elevators had to be installed. There was a lot of physical changes needed to be made, but I think it also brought an incredible amount of awareness to those of us who don't have a disability, to say boy this stuff would have really been challenging, had this not been done and to put yourself in somebody else's position where the things that we take for granted, now you look at it through a different set of eyes and say now there's there's the inclusion. Now somebody can attend an event or go to this restaurant or you know get to this table in a way that they couldn't have before. That's pretty significant.

Taunya Renson-Martin:

Yeah, absolutely. And again because I'm living here in Belgium, in Europe, I see what it's like when you don't have those things made available. Its still I think probably very challenging. Uh for example if you are in a wheelchair, even blind I think Uh living here.

Eric Dickmann:

in Europe.

Taunya Renson-Martin:

The US is quite advanced in that area I would say. And that's great. So I mean I don't think anybody would say you know, having a wheelchair ramp for example is politically correct, I mean that's just being human and good, and thoughtful. And so why wouldn't we apply that to many other areas in what we're doing, making sure that we have a level playing field when it comes to pay for people regardless of their gender, or their ethnicity, or their socioeconomic background. If they're doing the job then they should be paid for the job that they're doing.

Eric Dickmann:

Yeah from a marketing standpoint, you know we talked a little bit about imagery and the language that's used in text to make sure that that's inclusive language. When you're talking with clients, what are some of the other things that you advise them in terms of their overall brand presence that they should consider in terms of being more inclusive?

Taunya Renson-Martin:

Yes, well first of all I'm excited that so many companies that we've started having these conversations with are really excited about the topic. Um and Again I would say it's within the last year that we're really having a lot of very candid conversations with our clients and with prospective clients. So that's excited, I'm glad that conversation is happening. Um and some of the things that we're talking to them about it's just expanding their viewpoint on what it means when they're really looking at diversity, equity, and inclusion. Uh because it's easy for companies to kind of narrow their focus on maybe gender or maybe gender and ethnicity, and that's it. Um but we have conversations about okay, your website if I am a visually impaired, how do I access the information. you know? If I am hearing impaired and you have created I don't know all of this series of videos, how am I going to get that information? Uh we've talked about genders, how we've approached genders, just kind of poking and asking us, is it socioeconomic? Uh everybody on your website looks like they're from a particular background does that mean that someone from a lower income background for example, may not be interested in your services or your products. Have you thought about that? Just asking the questions and letting people take the time to really think and go Hmm, Yeah I hadn't thought about that. That's the only thing. Let's start with that. Let's just move from the I hadn't thought about it to the I'm thinking about that a lot. I'm constantly thinking about that, who I want to speak to and will they see themselves in our narrative?

Eric Dickmann:

Well one thing I wanted to bring up as well is this doesn't imply that you can't target your niche, right? Everybody doesn't have to offer products and services that are tailored for everyone. I wouldn't expect the store that you go to to get your hair care products, to have big display ads with some guy that looks like me, because I''m not their target customer, right? So it doesn't mean that you have to move beyond your niche, if you are specifically serving the needs of a particular niche.

Taunya Renson-Martin:

Absolutely, Absolutely. And but what we find is that many people who do want to serve a broader group of people still haven't really thought about those things, then ask those questions. So we do some marketing work for a travel company, and then the travel company, they're catering to kind of a wealthy uh business people, but most of the images tend to be wealthy businessmen, sometimes wealthy businesswomen. Wealthy meaning you know they're dressed up in their business suit in the travel, uh so men or women, almost always white, almost always white. So then the question is just to ask, Okay, so you're not catering to people of color or and in this case when I say wide I mean White European. So you know what about even Uh someone a little bit more Southern or a little bit darker or Middle Eastern or African Asian? None of these people cause they they you know they are living here in Europe. So are they excluded No no no no, They're not excluded. Oh okay, well then now you have more people that you can represent and the stories that you tell .Uh the couple that is on the airplane they're always uh a heterosexual couple, are you purposely excluding A same-sex couple? Oh No, No, Okay. Just wondering cause maybe that's another story you can tell. Oh okay.

Eric Dickmann:

I sent you an email earlier today because I just received an email from United Airlines uh it was specifically around this topic, and I've noticed that that particular airline does a pretty good job with this and has been doing a good job for quite some time even their in flight safety videos they make a point a very diverse and inclusive group you know usually doing something from their home country as a way just to make it more entertaining. But I think that's the point, it's inclusive, it's entertaining, it's fun, and it's not something that feels heavy handed or burdensome, but I think that it does a lot to show that the brand is being sensitive to that, and wanting to show a more welcoming and inclusive face, and what a perfect thing to do for a travel company.

Taunya Renson-Martin:

Absolutely. And And what's nice is when it is when it just feels kind of natural. You know It just feels organic and natural. It's not you don't have to hit people over the head with it and you don't have to You know come out and and and and put you know pride posters everywhere If that's something you've never done before You mean And I mean we don't need to be you know Performative here or gimmicky Um But just look at what you're doing And and again asking that question have I told everyone story Am I only telling one group of people's story all the time And if so is that the only group I'm targeting If so great But if that's not the only group I'm targeting Maybe I should stretch a little bit more And I also find and this is a no brainer but if you have a diverse team somebody is going to raise their hand and say Hey Have you thought of If you don't have a diverse team Then probably you're not going to get all of the challenges that that That would make whatever you're producing richer It's good to have people challenge you and ask questions

Eric Dickmann:

We all have filters, intentional or unintentional that we see the world through, and having more eyes looking at things is often a better way to expose things that maybe your filters are covering. I think this is really an interesting conversation and I'm so glad that you were able to join us on the show today to talk in more detail about it. Before we wrap up, I would love it if you could just tell people where they can find you on the web and where they can get more information about Mach Media. And I know you've done some posts about this topic as well.

Taunya Renson-Martin:

Absolutely. So yeah, I welcome anyone. You can find me on LinkedIn for sure. And I'm posting about this topic quite regularly, and as well Mach Media. If you're following Mach Media on LinkedIn, you will get our perspectives. We also have been making some tools on the topic of inclusive communications that you can download and use freely. Instagram as well,and yeah, I think that would be the good things to do. And then of course if you go to our website we do have blog posts that we have put up in the last few days on how we approach DEI at Mach Media. Please feel free to have a look at and you can also download that inclusive communication checklist that I was talking about, completely free. Use it, legit.

Eric Dickmann:

That's perfect. Yeah, that's perfect. I will make sure that we have all that linked up in the show notes so that people can easily find that. Taunya, this has been a great conversation. I really appreciate your time coming on the show today and sharing these thoughts. It's a hot topic in many ways, but a topic that I think is great that we focus more attention on. So really appreciate your time today.

Taunya Renson-Martin:

Thank you very much. And as I've told people who've asked, is this just the new trend? It's not a trend, it's the tipping point. And hopefully we can move forward and continue to grow from here.

Eric Dickmann:

Thank you for joining us on this episode of The Virtual CMO podcast. For more episodes, go to fiveechelon.com/podcast to subscribe through your podcast player of choice. And if you'd like to develop consistent lead flow and a highly effective marketing strategy, visit fiveechelon.com to learn more about our Virtual CMO consulting services.