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Why over-representing races in hiring marketing is harmful to your company (and how to change it)

Updated: 5 days ago

Although striving to showcase diversity, equity, and inclusion within your company is a commendable value, artificially inserting "diverse" candidates in recruitment materials can be detrimental and might not lead to the desired outcomes.

Modern candidates are highly perceptive of the use of stock images nowadays, emphasizing the importance of avoiding imagery that misrepresents the reality. Instead, utilizing authentic images is generally more effective for a company, even if it lacks the specific groups it aims to include. This approach is more likely to attract individuals (of any race) who share the same values as you - a crucial aspect of DEI and more sustainable in the long term.

What drives companies and institutions to disproportionately portray certain races in their marketing?

It is worth pondering why there is a temptation to use stock imagery featuring individuals of various races. This inclination may stem from the company's objective to cultivate a diverse workforce, which is understandable.

Another factor is the challenge of sourcing authentic imagery that portrays individuals realistically. Platforms like Canva, Adobe, and other major stock image providers often categorize images based on race, which in itself signals questionable media practices.

As someone involved in marketing and design, I understand the difficulty of finding suitable images to convey compelling narratives swiftly. Time constraints and budget limitations often make it impractical to capture new photos, leading to a reliance on available stock imagery.

Prioritize equity over visual representation

As a media professional and an advocate for DEI initiatives, I urge companies to consider the repercussions of perpetuating "racial stereotypes" in their DEI and human resources content. This approach is counterproductive to achieving genuine DEI goals.

Regrettably, the journey to DEI is gradual and lacks glamour. Striving for real change may involve forgoing superficial imagery that fails to reflect the complexities of the challenging path toward greater inclusivity and dismantling systemic racism.

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