Sep 26, 2018
By Alex Marin
As one of the honorees of Brand Innovators’ ‘Top 100 Women in Branded Marketing’ event in October, BET CMO Jeanine Liburd reveals how the industry can address challenges to help empower women leaders.
Liburd, the chief marketing and communications officer for BET Networks, willwill also be honored as a Brand Innovators Top 100 Women in Marketing & Advertisingon Oct. 3. She will also appear on-stage at Advertising Week New York in the ‘The Power of #BlackTwitter Voices in Hollywood‘ panel on Oct. 4. For more information and to see the full list of panels featuring Viacom thought leaders at Advertising Week, click here.
"Brands have to be authentic at all times, but especially when addressing controversial topics."
What are some of the challenges that brands face when addressing potentially controversial topics in their advertising?
Authenticity! And what I mean by that is; don’t create a diverse advertising campaign because it’s the hip, “of the moment” thing to do, without having a diverse workforce at the highest levels of your company. Don’t take on a highly charged issue in your marketing campaign, yet your company has no history of corporate philanthropy or cause marketing. And finally, don’t create content for people of color if people of color do not have a seat at the table when creating that content. Brands have to be authentic at all times, but especially when addressing controversial topics. It’s imperative that brands take a 360-degree approach to hot-button issues and are honest about who they are as a company, if not their audience might turn on them.
There is no doubt organizations are recruiting more inclusive teams at the junior and mid-levels, but how do we close the gender and minority gap in the C-suite?
Often times brands feel good about themselves when they walk into their office and see diverse faces throughout the office; they think they have figured it out. But I always encourage brands to do a simple litmus test. The next time you are in a senior leadership meeting, a meeting where high-level decisions are being made about branding, business development, sales, acquisitions, etc., take a moment and look around the room. If you don’t see a critical mass of women or minorities in that room, sitting at the table with you, then you have work to do as a company. At that point, it’s time to start really assessing your company culture, your hiring practices, your retention issues and start to make a plan. But avoid making that plan in a silo. Brands should consider hiring diversity and inclusion consultants to help them on this journey because closing the diversity gap won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.