The creator economy has always challenged the status quo of who can have influence, whose voice can be heard, who works with brands, and who becomes a brand.
With this disruption, there have been more opportunities for people to historically excluded communities to monetize their creative talents and perspectives, establish influence and break into the rooms and industries where their communities have been underrepresented.
Despite this, for diverse creators, the creator economy can reflect some of the same inequalities that we see in all sectors and in the wider global economy: wage inequality, lack of equal representation, and processes that do not take into account barriers and unique needs of different backgrounds. experiences.
Brands, here are three ways to improve your creator inclusion strategy to make the space more inclusive and equitable.
Develop a mission statement
Why is it important for your business to build meaningful partnerships with creators from underrepresented communities? Why is diverse representation important to your influencer marketing efforts? How can inclusive creator partnerships help your brand better serve your audience?
If the answers to these questions are unclear, pause. You need clarity to generate impact.
A mission statement helps your brand move from simply tracking what you see from other companies to doing what really works for you and your creative partners. It will also help set the tone for how your teams come together to defend the diversity of creators.
When establishing your mission statement, also consider how your industry has contributed to barriers for historically marginalized communities in the past and today. By considering the historical context of how marginalized communities have experienced your brand or industry, you can make more strategic and inclusive decisions about your partnerships with creators.
For example, imagine that you have a sustainable trademark who wants to focus on sustainability awareness. Your first instinct might tell you to start by looking for creators who are passionate about ecology. But, when you step back and look at the historical context of environmental racism and how climate change disproportionately affects communities of color, you might find that you should focus specifically on amplifying the stories of creators of color. whose communities are most affected by climate change. .
Give up creative control
It’s crucial to let creators tell their stories the way they want to tell them. And if it’s not possible to give up some control over a specific campaign, it might not be the best solution for working with creators.
That’s not to say brands shouldn’t have a say in the creative process — obviously they should. But the goal should be to see creators as your creative partners; the process should be collaborativeand there should be room for creative negotiation.
This is especially important for creators from marginalized communities, because on the whole, one seat at the table is not enough. Brands need to create space for these creators to have equal stakes in releasing created content. Otherwise, you run the risk of perpetuating an experience that says your brand wants to benefit from being close to that creator and their community, but doesn’t want to engage with the full creator and the passionate viewpoints that come with it. .
Try to establish a set of creative guidelines before launching the campaign. This should include all proxies while allowing enough leeway and freedom for the creator to insert their own ideas and voices. Spend time aligning these creative guidelines with your team, then share these guidelines with the creator and ask if they are aligned and if they have any guidelines to add as well. Use guidelines as a tool when you feel your team is struggling to relinquish creative control.
Asking whether “due diligence” creates barriers to entry
It’s common to see agencies and brands demanding that media, advertising and production dollars go to certified businesses that are minority, women, LGBTQ+, veterans or people owned. disabilities.
Obtaining certification has great benefits for businesses. However, for some small businesses, start-ups, or even independent contractors—as many creators are—there may be barriers that prevent them from being certified.
For example, some organizations require proof of business address or a rental or mortgage agreement if the business is home-based. Owning or renting a property can have obstacles in itself. What if a creator sublets and doesn’t have access to a rental agreement?
Other organizations may require a business bank account, a non-refundable application fee, or multiple years of tax filings to consider – items that require monetary resources, time, and some level of financial literacy, which may not be easily accessible to low-income creators. or popular socio-economic backgrounds.
Often, the systems or processes that we see as mechanisms that help us do our due diligence also contribute to creating more barriers for various creators. Let’s challenge ourselves to review and think critically about how systems might inadvertently render opportunities beyond the reach of the very creators they are meant to amplify.
In many ways, a brand’s impact is only as strong as the operational structures behind its initiatives and statements. By taking stock of your processes and questioning your assumptions about how people experience those processes, you can find strategic ways to remove barriers and mitigate inequities.
You may not be successful 100% of the time, but we must continue to set new standards and strive for inclusion, equity and accessibility as the foundation for success.