How DE&I Drives Growth | From the Founder of Apiary Digital

Blog / by Karen Amundson

In 2020, I became curious and passionate about DE&I (diversity, equity, and inclusion) because it’s the “right thing to do.” But as I dug deeper, I realized it’s also absolutely essential to business growth now and in the future.

As I learned about DE&I, and thanks to inclusive marketing thought leaders like Sonia Thompson, I became familiar with the concept of inclusive marketing—essentially, DE&I applied to marketing and advertising. As I immersed myself in Sonia’s course, Inclusive Brand Academy, I couldn’t help doing so without applying my Apiary data-driven performance marketing lens. This cemented for me that inclusive marketing is critical to brands who want to future-proof customer acquisition success. 

My learnings have culminated in the following definition of inclusive performance marketing: 

Inclusive performance marketing is intentionally reaching your brand’s full, and increasingly diverse audience potential—that is, customer acquisition growth.

Not sold yet? Let’s look at some data points (there’s that performance marketing lens again!):

  • 48% of Gen Z come from communities of color. To future-proof your brand, you must bring intentionality to your marketing approach. 
  • 42% of the U.S. population are people of color or mixed race individuals according to the 2020 census. That’s a vast potential market share!
  • 71% of consumers prefer buying from companies that are aligned with their own values.

However, inclusive marketing isn’t just about racial diversity and inclusion. Depending on what pain points your brand can solve for, it might do well to intentionally reach audiences of different ages, gender, sexual orientation, neurodiversity, body size and type, ability, etc. As Sonia Thompson teaches in her inclusion course, you do not have to include everyone. You just need to always be intentional about who you are looking to reach

Our current reality is that when marketers think about broadly targeting a general population, or don’t intentionally think about who they’re targeting at all, often they unintentionally have a bias toward the white default target customer. 

There is tons of great thought leadership around building inclusive brands and products, brand marketing, and creative. This used to be shuffled under the guise of “multicultural marketing”—an afterthought tacked onto the main strategy. But where is the thought leadership on inclusive performance marketing? How does this apply to search marketing, paid social, or the nuts and bolts of paid media optimization? Further, there is a big emphasis on inclusivity in consumer advertising right now. But again, what about in B2B marketing? 

Although we are still miles away from being truly diverse with representation in executive positions, according to an article from Delioitte, the number of Fortune 500 companies with over 40% diversity on their boards is nearly four times higher than it was in 2010. This means the B2B buyers and decision makers are ever more diverse.

…but what are the demand gen marketers doing to adapt their approach?

Apiary Digital’s Roadmap to Inclusive Performance Marketing

From the top down, at Apiary we are striving to be a Collective in which DE&I is simply a part of our DNA. We are striving to ensure and practice DE&I so that it simply becomes second nature—so that we have the people, process, tools, and culture in which it is inevitable that we help our clients reach their full audience potential by activating through an inclusive performance marketing lens.

How are we working to make this happen? Glad you asked! We are doing this through applying a full-funnel, always-on approach (can you tell, we’re marketing nerds?). We know we will never be “done” nor do we ever want to be!

At the foundation, we’re starting with personal and professional commitment, building DE&I into the DNA of how we do business—from committing a percentage of revenue to our DE&I budget, to holding each member of the leadership team accountable for DE&I KPIs across every function of the business, to building our talent pipeline and bench to become representative of the customers we want to help clients reach. We are refining our performance marketing playbook, and very excited to put it in play with clients, to help them boost inclusivity of their own performance marketing. (If this is something you’re interested in, let us know!)

As an added bonus, as we travel this path applying inclusive performance marketing best practices (starting with search and social), we’ve identified areas where inclusive performance marketing helps to solve for contemporary media challenges:

  • Algorithmic bias, which can often lead to performance degradation over time due to over saturation of audiences 
  • Challenges with new customer acquisition in the wake of privacy changes
  • Over-reliance on a single channel to deliver results leading to risky revenue concentration

There are so many more insights to uncover and we’re committed to staying the course!


Contact Apiary to find out more about how inclusive performance marketing can help your own brand’s growth. 

A huge shoutout and thank you to our partners who have in the past, or are currently fueling our journey toward DE&I and inclusive marketing. Sonia Thompson, COOP Careers, and Colorvizion. We have many gaps and growth areas of our own with regard to DE&I, and we’re excited to continually grow, improve, and help to bring our clients along with us!