The Human Element- Diversity and AI

Executive Summary:  

  • In the latest episode of The Human Element podcast, we sat down with a panel of AI experts across AI integration, economic empowerment, and innovation to discuss the significance of embracing diversity and the transformative impact of AI on reshaping brand-audience connections. 
  • This conversation explored diversity's role in shaping branding, sustainable economic empowerment, ethical AI integration, and the collaborative evolution propelling data-powered marketing forward. 
  • AI's prowess lies in its ability to infuse human elements into data, enabling tailored brand interactions and creating room for strategic discussions. Emphasized was the necessity of comprehending diverse identities beyond data points, crucial for establishing genuine brand connections and addressing unmet needs.  
  • Sustaining the momentum from these discussions necessitates year-round engagement with diverse audiences, having a consistent presence with those audiences and recognizing that they are a vital part of the consumer chain. 
  • DEI GPT was spotlighted as a vital tool to navigate intricate diversity, equity, and inclusion challenges by integrating AI for nuanced messaging. Discussions highlighted the importance of cautious AI integration, urging thorough partner vetting and ethical decision-making processes. 
  • Integrating AI demands caution; understanding its fallibility is crucial. Overcorrection or oversight in context can lead to unintended consequences, such as flagging race-related words as racial terms while attempting to generate diverse images. Brands should navigate these tools carefully, involving diverse perspectives and engaging their audience to build a more inclusive and loyal consumer base.


The Human Element: Diversity and AI 

In today's workplace, diversity and inclusion are vital for driving innovation and cultivating a supportive atmosphere. Yet, despite heightened awareness, many companies grapple with effectively tackling diversity challenges. Enter AI, emerging as a potent force in identifying and curbing biases across corporate spheres. It's evolving as the ally we require to instigate lasting, impactful change.  

In the latest podcast episode of The Human Element, industry leaders delved into the intersection of diversity and AI in modern marketing. Host Chelsea Radovanovic, accompanied by experts Abran Maldonado, Co-founder of Creative Labs Ventures; Kanene Ayo Holder, AI Integration Manager for DEI GPT at Create Labs Ventures; Mark Prince, SVP Head of Economic Empowerment at dentsu; and Michael Liu, Head of Innovation at Carat, brought it all to the table.  

Putting the Human Back in Data:  

At dentsu we embrace the belief that AI serves as a tool for empowerment within marketing, aiming to  boost what humans can do, not something to replace us. Imagine if AI could streamline the process of making connections with people that feel more personal and real? 

Holder underscored this, stating, “AI can help you leverage personal information, to put the human back into the data. The goal is to feel like that product, that commercial, that piece of IP, whatever that is the jingle, the graphic, the logo, makes you feel like that as a conversation between you and that company or that intention.” 

The topic of AI’s role in creativity has been long debated. Does it need to be human vs. machine or human with machine? Holder added: “Our cultural evolution, whether through blues, jazz, hip hop, or even trap, has been a steady journey. But AI brings a different dimension. It challenges genre norms, redefining how rap or any culture could sound, look, or feel.” AI could push the boundaries, creating new possibilities and altering the traditional constructs of various cultural expressions, much like how these music genres evolved over time due to human creativity. All of which poses the question: Can we create something even more expansive? Collaboration might hold the key.  

The Role of Marketing, Diversity, and Economic Empowerment: 

When it comes to marketing it is no secret that brands strive for heightened metrics, from sales to clicks. Yet, beneath the data lies the truth: people are diverse, complex, not a uniform entity. Their identities—be it gender, race, class, or unique nuances such as being a vegan—compose their brand, their essence. Brands must now surpass mere data harvesting; it's about understanding individuals, their values, addressing their unmet needs that others overlook. 

Some brands lead by controlling the narrative, setting trends, while others rest on legacy. But these static approaches are precarious in a dynamic world, especially amidst evolving geopolitical landscapes. The conversation shifts, delving into racial, gender, and pay gap conversations daily. Inclusion evolves; the conversation widens to include previously overlooked aspects such as menopause – something extremely important to a woman’s life, yet brands are just starting to get involved. Diversity expands beyond traditional notions; it encompasses unspoken needs. AI offers insights, but it's not a remedy; human thought and empathy remain crucial. Nuanced, empathetic brands that authentically address individual needs connect, resonate, and ultimately gain consumer trust. 

But in order for AI to continue to address consumer needs, the conversation of sustainable economic empowerment progress and practices must delve deeper into strategies for longevity and inclusivity. 

Brands are asking, how do you sustain the momentum to keep these conversations alive?  

Prince, emphasized the need for consistency, saying, "We're not just doing tentpole marketing. It's about having a consistent presence with those audiences and recognizing that they are a vital part of the consumer chain... from a strategic perspective, lathering throughout the year." This strategic, continuous engagement, not just sporadic efforts, ensures brands authentically connect with diverse audiences. 

Yet, where do brands begin? And how do they make sure they get it right? 

Maldonado acknowledged that this was the question that launched the start of DEI GPT out of Creative Labs: “Out of Creative Labs emerged the DEI GPT, a product addressing the complexity of approaching challenging topics like diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). This stemmed from recognizing the struggle professionals faced when entrusted with roles like Chief Diversity Officers without formal training.” 

In his words, "Sometimes you need to have something to augment and scale what you don't have at your disposal from a resource standpoint and tapping into the expertise." The DEI GPT integrates AI capabilities to offer Best Practices expertise and an evolving language toolkit, supporting nuanced messaging. 

There is a need for AI as a crucial sixth entity in the decision-making room. This AI entity ensures inclusion, preventing unintentional exclusions that traditional evaluations might overlook. And when you bring in the historical gaps in marketing review processes, necessitating technology to fill these gaps, suggesting "Sometimes we need technology to pick up where human error might let something slip." 

Sustainable economic empowerment in marketing isn't about sporadic efforts; rather, it requires consistent, strategic engagement throughout the year. This consistency involves integrating economic empowerment across various facets of a business, ensuring that it's not just a singular effort but a pervasive part of the brand's strategy. 

Navigating the AI Landscape and Ethical Integration:  

However, integrating AI requires caution. It's crucial to understand that AI isn't infallible; overcorrection or overlooking context can lead to unintended consequences, such as flagging any race related words as racial terms when we’re attempting to generate diverse images. Brands should navigate these tools carefully, involving diverse perspectives and opening the process to their audience to build a more inclusive and loyal consumer base. 

Liu pointed out a key concern: "Even in ad tech today, we don't know how all these decisions are made."  

Agencies must rigorously vet partners and delve into data to ensure inclusive, representative decision-making for diverse audiences. Equally imperative is grasping the data driving AI decisions for ethical navigation. This understanding is pivotal to ensure AI-driven choices mirror and embrace the diverse makeup of our audiences. 

These discussions serve as a blueprint for AI's trajectory and a safeguard for its future. Can the fusion of human creativity and AI's potential propel marketing into uncharted territories? It's not just about answers; it's about crafting a new marketing narrative—one that harmonizes technological advancement with intrinsic human nuances.  

The Human Element: A Carat Podcast, explores how insight and humanity impact modern marketing to build stronger brands. Want more of this conversation? Tune in to the full podcast episode here. 

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