A colleague came charging into the office one day waiving a copy
of a major business magazine, pointing to the full-page recruiting ad placed by a large financial services company. The ad used
the same stock image we’d just dropped into direct mail and
Web work for one of our clients, an association launching a new
product built around coaching and professional development.
Call it synchronicity or dumb luck, but during the next week
we came across at least four usages of the same image — an
engaged and enthusiastic black female executive — all in the
After recommitting our creative department to shy away
from stock photography regardless of budget constraints, we
thought hard about why so many well-developed strategic plans
for diversity fail to deliver the goods when deployed in the
Most clients we see today realize diversity is either a challenge or a big opportunity. Most know if you don’t remove
unintentional barriers to entry for prospective members, your
internal makeup doesn’t reflect or incorporate your target
member potential, you don’t have a wide spectrum of opin-
ions at the table for decisions, you don’t have a retention strategy for diverse members, then you likely have a diversity gap.
The work and service arenas have evolved and diverse people
with skills and interests are out there, but why don’t they
respond to our campaigns? Why don’t they join our associations?
How can marketing do a better job of bridging the gap between
an association’s well-mapped and supported diversity strategy
and the actual number of diverse prospects and members attending its meetings, volunteering and valuing its resources?
Sharing a Passion for Your Mission
Diversity strategies often get reduced to images of smiling
“diverse” people sitting around a generic office, overlain by
cookie-cutter copy about how great it is to work for (insert
your organization here), and how much (your organization
again) values (insert diversity touchpoint here). They all look
and sound the same.
The typical diversity campaign often fails to tell the audience
anything unique about the organization it’s selling: the organization’s value proposition, mission or unique interests it can