IAB Canada Celebrates the Diverse Voices Across Canada  

A DEI Working Group Discussion 

This week we gathered some of the strongest minds and voices from our DEI Working Group to lead a compelling discussion on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Celebrating the Diverse Voices Across Canada.  

Mike Fragomeni and Rahul Sethi of Vividata shared their latest data and insights on Canada’s growing audience of culturally diverse consumers and highlighted the opportunities for marketers to better reach them. Delving into the subject of representation in media, a staggering 51% to 61% of Black, Chinese and South Asian Canadians feeling that “they don’t see people like me enough in ads” (compared to 48% of Canadians overall). This insight is critically important as the “majority felt that they would remember brands and feel more comfortable using professionals for various services with ads that showed people of my own culture”.

The study also pointed out that there is “diversity within diversity”.  Marketers often bundle audiences into broad segments to check the diversity box, but the reality is that these segments are made up of varied backgrounds with a wide spectrum of unique cultural customs and attributes. Brands would be well-served to put more thought into who they are trying to reach with their messages and customize accordingly. 

Opportunities to do better were further unpacked through two separate discussions; firstly, a fireside chat between Jagdeesh Mann (Sunflower Media) and Maz Tanir (DEI Working Group Chair) followed by a conversation led by Karim Kanji (Active International Canada) alongside of panelists Megha Wadhwani (Sharethrough), Nick Davis (CBC), and Tara Rush (Google). Sharing their own personal experiences and observations in the marketplace, the group touched on issues of inclusion, cultural misappropriation and tokenism making it clear that although we are moving in the right direction, there is a still a great deal of work to be done.  

Three key takeaways: 

  1. Inclusive advertising needs to be always-on – while it is appreciated that brands are present, don’t just advertise at cultural festivals or events or during dedicated days or months. One panelist said it succinctly “Black people buy cars all year round, not just during Black History Month.“ 
  1. There has been progress to be more inclusive in media but there is still a lack of diversity at the decision table. The value of having diverse cultural representation is to engage and get a better understanding of each community so we connect and create media and content that resonates. 
  1. Build your diversity efforts with meaning and intent, not just to check a box. “Trust must be built, and it deserves to be cultivated authentically”. Be genuine in your efforts, get involved at the grassroots level, and take the time to understand the diversity that exists within diversity all year-round. 

You can find the full discussion here. 

IAB Canada recently conducted a survey to gauge how our industry is doing against the commitments of our IAB Canada’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Charter and to see how signatories are helping to drive change while identifying areas where we could be doing better. Our next DEI working group discussion will centre around these findings, and we invite you to join the conversation by reaching out to committees@iabcanada.com