True Diversity Lies Beyond Who You See In the Mirror

Diverse workplaces acknowledge the individual strengths of employees and their potential. How each person thinks and feels makes teams stronger.


James L Katzaman

2 years ago | 3 min read

Varying backgrounds and experience add to the wealth of ideas

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Diverse workplaces acknowledge the individual strengths of employees and their potential. More than physical differences, it’s how each person thinks and feels that makes teams stronger.

Diversity in marketing is a prime topic for Azeem Ahmad, a digital marketer, speaker and host. He is one of a small community of marketers of color.

Starting as a digital marketing freelancer, Ahmad has worked with clients ranging from small local funeral directors, attraction ticket resales, international banking brands and insurance companies, retail and e-commerce brands across European countries, and a large automotive brand.

Diverse Teams Give Your Company a Big Competitive Advantage
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Besides conference presentations on pay-per-click, analytics and search engine optimization, Ahmad talks about wider topics such as diversity in marketing, drawing from his experience.

During an Africa Tweet Chat, he discussed the benefits of a diverse workplace, starting with making sure everyone feels included.

“Double and triple check to see if there is a fair representation across every characteristic, including race, sex and ethnicity,” Ahmad said. “Ensure they all have a fair chance to speak and represent themselves.”

Diversity is a willingness to be open to all sorts of people and ideas. It’s not so much as people looking different but tapping into varied backgrounds and experience. That opens more opportunity to bring a host of solutions into the mix.

“Accept everyone and include them — not excluding them for a likely trivial reason,” Ahmad said. “I like this distinction: The difference between diversity and inclusion is being invited to the party, and having a great time at the party.

“Teamwork is crucial in advancing diversity,” he said.

No One Knows All

Diverse teams tend to have more and better innovative ideas as people feed on each other’s inputs. No one person knows everything, making added perspectives invaluable.

“Businesses listen to and are driven largely by finance,” Ahmad said. “Those in the higher quartiles for racial and ethnic diversity stand to have a 35 percent better financial return than their counterparts. They literally make more money.”

Business owners hold back from being more diverse because it’s easy for them to get set in their ways. If they think they are a success, they wonder why they should change a good thing.

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“Diversity is often not seen as a priority but as a checkbox exercise,” Ahmad said. “One annual training session about diversity, equity and inclusion doesn’t scratch the surface of the lived experiences and mistreatment of marginalized groups.

“Businesses are reluctant to feel some of that pain,” he said.

When getting a job, it’s often not what you know but who you know. Referrals are great to quickly fill positions, but lousy at attracting people who are different from you.

“Diversity and inclusion have varying types of ignorance,” Ahmad said. “They focus on three core types: invincible ignorance, vincible ignorance and affected ignorance.”

  • Invincible ignorance is a form of ignorance where you don’t know something, and you can’t possibly know it. You absolve yourself of moral responsibility for it.
  • Vincible ignorance is a form of ignorance where you don’t know something, and you could possibly know it.
  • Affected ignorance is a form of ignorance where you don’t know something, you could know it, but you choose not to know and actively try to remain ignorant.

Liking What You See

Some might argue that they don’t need more diversity, but would rather have more talent. How do you know the full range of talent available if you only seek people who look like the person you see in the mirror?

In Ahmad’s podcast, he talks with advertising agency owner Derek Walker about understanding white privilege and diversifying boardrooms.

Marketers must remember who they are marketing to and try to match their workforce accordingly. The personnel rule should be, “It takes one to know one.”

Work hard in the spirit of diversity
Diversity, inclusion and belonging are not

“Get talented people of color into the boardrooms,” Ahmad said. “Stop having the same familiar white faces at conferences. If this is you, give up your seat for those who don’t get opportunities.

“Give marginalized talent the chance to shine,” he said. “Support, train and retain them.”

Those considering making their company or event more inclusive should assess their target audience and where they live online and off. Send out people to mingle with them to get a feel for their wants, needs and dreams.

Through social listening you can understand how to position yourself for everyone’s benefit.

“Diversity doesn’t just mean having one person of color or Black individual at your event to talk about diversity,” Ahmad said. “In this case, diversity means including talented people to share their knowledge from all backgrounds, sexuality, gender and social classes.”

Ahmad is available through his podcast and newsletter.

About The Author

Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services and worked in public affairs for the Air Force and federal government. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.


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James L Katzaman

Jim Katzaman is a charter member of the Tealfeed Creators' program, focusing on marketing and its benefits for companies and consumers. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as well as subscribing here on Tealfeed.







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