Diversity Advisory Council – Guest Blog Series with Jo Tiongson-Perez, Penn Museum

It’s been one year since Slice Communications has launched our Diversity Advisory Council. This committee of business leaders with diverse backgrounds and life experiences have shared their expertise on several projects for clients to ensure all messaging, campaigns, and content is inclusive and thoughtful. 

To celebrate this milestone, some of our council members shared their thoughts on the importance of DEI in marketing through an interview series.

This interview is with Jo Tiongson-Perez, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at the Penn Museum.

As it relates to marketing and communications, what does DEI mean to you?

DEIA [Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access], when applied as a core principle permeating every communications contact point of an organization, ensures that the messages and images used to communicate a company’s mission, services, and experiences are inclusive of diverse cultures and perspectives at the widest spectrum possible.

How do you think the role of DEI has evolved over the past year and a half in marketing and communications?

A social reckoning mobilized by movements like “Black Lives Matter” and “Stop Asian Hate” has accelerated awareness and actions embracing DEIA.

But it is a moral and business imperative for organizations to view DEIA as constantly evolving work, not flash-in-the-pan social media statements or one-time racial literacy training. DEIA needs to be the foundation of a company’s strategic plan and at the core of a company’s culture.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story that demonstrates DEI and marketing being successfully incorporated?

An award-winning ad campaign “Seeing the Barnes” for the Barnes Foundation evolved from only showcasing European artwork on museum walls to representing diverse partners in the Philadelphia community. It made the campaign come alive with their stories of art connecting people from all walks of life and how the Barnes can be a hub for cultivating those connections.

A recently launched ad campaign “Stories We Wear” for the Penn Museum incorporated feedback from the Museum’s internal diversity committee and department stakeholders, ensuring that diverse cultures are represented in creative collateral and messaging was accessible and culturally sensitive. 

As language — both in visual and text forms — is also critical in how museums communicate their collections and overall mission, their institutional style guides are prime pathways for weaving in DEIA principles. For ethnographic museums like the Penn Museum, the way we talk about our collections not only describes objects and artifacts, but also ascribes value to people and living cultures. Through the work of a Brand and Voice committee, we update our style guide to ensure that in our word choices — as one specific example — people are prioritized over circumstances: “enslaved peoples” (not “slaves”); “people with disabilities” (not “the disabled”). Capitalization is also taken into account: “Indigenous” and “Black” when referring to people.

What’s one piece of advice you have for someone working in marketing and communications?

Because you are in the business of influencing behavior, motivating decisions, and persuading perspectives using media that is widely consumed by the public, you have a responsibility to balance business goals with DEIA initiatives at all times. The images you choose, the copy you write, ultimately have an impact on how people perceive not only your brand or services but also themselves and others.

Thank you to Jo for participating in our guest blog series. And be sure to learn more about our Diversity Advisory Council members.

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