A diverse company culture can positively impact your organization's bottom line
While Seoul Secret’s pill could easily have slipped into the global multi-billion dollar skin-whitening industry relatively unnoticed, its marketing communication suggesting “whiteness makes you win” drew international ire. Featuring famous Thai actress Chris Horang discussing her path to stardom, it attributes her success to her paleness of skin.
“If I stopped taking care of myself, everything I have worked for, the whiteness I have invested in, may be lost,” she says.
The ad has been internationally criticised for its racist overtones, implying that to have any skin colour other than white would automatically be a disadvantage. It has since been pulled, with Seoul Secret issuing an apology for its content; it is worth noting however that the product has not been pulled from store shelves.
What is perhaps the most shocking element of the advertisement is the value Horang attributes to her skin’s ‘whiteness’, effectively crediting her colouring for her success.
In an era where many cross-border companies highlight their international presence and workforce diversity, and where lack of diversity at notable events and awards results in worldwide condemnation (think ‘#OscarsSoWhite), their campaign appears a gross misstep by the brand.
Diversity is increasingly an explicit core value for many international organizations. MasterCard, Johnson & Johnson and EY are leading the way, lauding the added value that talent variety brings to their brands. On its webpage, Apple states that “inclusion inspires innovation” – and as statistics prove, it’s true.
A 2015 McKinsey report shows that gender diverse companies are 15 per cent more likely to outperform other companies, while ethnically diverse companies are 35 per cent more likely to outperform their industry counterparts. The report further indicates that in the US there is a direct correlation between ethnic diversity and financial performance. Thus proving that company devotion to diverse leadership results in stronger commercial outcomes.
Individuals from a range of ethnic, gender and socioeconomic backgrounds bring their variety of experiences and perspectives which informs business leaders and their Boards of Directors so they can leverage new lenses on the business.
As Stephen Covey once said, “strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” Companies that capture, reflect and utilise the strength of these differences are those that will continue to build their brands and succeed in today’s global economy.