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Diversity – What does it mean for you as an entrepreneur?

Article shared, with permission, from Alberta Women Entrepreneurs

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By Sadhna Mathrani, Marketing Assistant, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs

Canada is a racially, ethnically, and socio-economically diverse country where we are lucky to have people from all walks of life. This also means that as an entrepreneur, you have a huge group of people to market your offering to, which can be very daunting. Diversity encompasses many things such as race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, and beliefs, just to name a few.

It can be a stepping stone to success for businesses, if engaged with in a thoughtful and genuine way. For all the entrepreneurs out there wondering how you too, can embrace diversity, we have some suggestions:

1. Hire for “cultural add” vs. “culture fit”.

If you’ve hired people before, you’ve likely heard the term “cultural fit”. However, this can be incredibly subjective and you might end up hiring people with the same ideas as you. A concept that is being explored by companies such as Pandora is looking for “cultural add” instead of “cultural fit”. This focuses on hiring people from different backgrounds who hold similar values but provide a diverse perspective to the firm. Rather than hiring people who think the same and behave the same, the company is able to create an environment that facilitates the uncovering and overcoming of biases. Through this new approach, Pandora has seen higher employee satisfaction surveys and morale. When hiring, look for those who are willing to provide a different perspective and will help grow your company rather than those who simply mimic who you are currently.

2. Consider the diversity of your customers when developing and marketing your product.

You don’t need to sell your product to every single person, but are you excluding a whole group of consumers without meaning to? For example, if you are an organic cosmetics company, you’ll have individuals with different skin types who come from different racial backgrounds and different age categories. Therefore, if you want to sell your product to appeal to a diverse group of consumers you’ll need to make sure that both your marketing technique and product itself are designed with this in mind. Don’t use a blanket technique but rather, a personalized one that shows that you’ve fully considered the diversity of your clients. This will help set you apart from other organizations.

Rihanna’s makeup brand, Fenty Beauty has done exactly that – the company offers over 40 different foundation shades. Unlike traditional cosmetic companies that have a narrow shade selection in their product lines, Fenty targets those who often have difficulty finding the right makeup for their skin. According to the Business of Fashion, Fenty reported a profit of $562 million in its first full year, outselling other popular brands such as Kat Von D. It’s clear that embracing diversity helped the company become one of the most popular makeup brands. Not only has this increased profits for the company, but it is also one of the most inclusive makeup companies.

3. Adjust your marketing style and product/service when you are entering new markets.

What is considered appropriate and enticing in Canada may be very different than what is well-received in another country. For example, McDonald`s has been successful in countries like India due to their cultural sensitivity. They have introduced food items that reflect the taste of those in the host country, such as the “Big Spicy Paneer Wrap” and the “Chicken Kebab Burger”. You might need to do primary and secondary research for this, or you may need to hire someone who is familiar with business in that particular region. Whatever it is, make sure you are aware of those differences and are able to accommodate for them! Our team at AWE is ready to support as you begin thinking about market expansion through resources, advising, and trade mission opportunities. Our Business Beyond Borders program is tailored towards women entrepreneurs looking to expand and grow their business beyond Alberta’s borders.

4. Don’t make generalizations about a group of people.

Make sure that you conduct research or speak to people from the group you’re trying to engage with to get a detailed understanding of what they need and how you can best serve their interests. A good way to do this is focus groups and primary research. It can be as simple as doing an online survey or just chatting with your target market in person about what they want. This will also help you market better as you’ll be more cognizant of people’s differences!

As you scale your business, your team will grow, your customer base will expand, and you may even enter new international markets. Embracing diversity and incorporating it into your business now will help ensure your business succeeds in the future.

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