Shutterstock's global diversity research shows how recent events have impacted marketing decisions

The events of the last 18 months have greatly impacted how diversity is valued and prioritised by marketers in content decisions

Georgie Moreton

Assistant Editor, BITE


Last month Shutterstock, a global provider of stock photography, launched the results from its global diversity research; a study that encompassed how the events of the 18 months impacted how diversity is valued and prioritised by marketers in brand content decisions.

The research took into account recent Covid-19 lockdowns, the Black Lives Matter movement, Stop Asian Hate movement, Brexit, and the wider political landscape, exploring the opinions and actions of 2,700 marketers in Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Spain, the UK, and the USA. The research looked into the use of diverse content in marketing campaigns and how global events impacted decisions.

Globally, the company found that the rise of awareness surrounding the Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate movements drove brands to launch and develop existing anti-racism pledges. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of global marketers and 62% in the UK state these movements impacted content decisions over the last 12 months. When selecting models and content for campaigns, 3 in 5 (60%) UK marketers said they significantly consider the issue of colourism. However, results also show that just under half (44%) of those surveyed felt it can be difficult to reflect their brand with racial and ethnic diversity visually.

In the UK, Brexit was cited as a factor that has negatively impacted the ability to source diverse content. Nearly half (48%) of UK marketers think the ability to hire diverse creative talent has been reduced because of Brexit. Yet marketers are also said to be prioritising the fact that recent campaigns represent all the cultures that make up modern British society to ensure authentic representation remains front of mind. 

As a result of the tumultuous political landscape of last year, more than a third (36%) of UK marketers believe that accurately representing the world we live in is the most important objective for content used in marketing campaigns. This is reflected by a desire for brands to effectively represent the world we live in over what their brand's purpose is. However, as consumers wish to engage with brands that are authentic, marketers must be careful to ensure that marketing efforts are aligned with the brand’s core values so they are not seen as disingenuous. 

“Our DE&I in Marketing study encompasses the events of the last year and a half and how these monumental moments have impacted how diversity is valued and prioritized in brand content decisions,” said Meeckel Beecher, Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Shutterstock. “Despite the widespread lockdowns, content creation excelled and the resilience of creativity has prevailed. There is no denying the world’s media has paid more attention than ever before to cultural movements and raising much-needed awareness, however, we wanted to understand to what extent this has been truly mirrored in content choices. Upholding values of diversity, inclusivity, representation and respect have never been more important, or more urgent.”