Where are D&I Advocates in the Social Media Movement?
by Andrés T. Tapia —
I was about two months in as president of Diversity Best Practices and talking with several colleagues about expanding the company’s reach and its social media presence: the page on Facebook and the new Twitter strategy.
That’s when it hit me.
The most powerful technology ever that can enable inclusion is in the palm of our hands, yet too many of us who understand the power of inclusion–particularly D&I practitioners–are MIA in its use.
Social media has become a ubiquitous part of everyday life. Last year, 3 of 10 Internet sessions included a visit to Facebook, according to ComScore. What’s more, visitors to Twitter increased 89% in 2010—and that’s not including those who accessed the site through third-party mobile apps. LinkedIn is blossoming as well, experiencing a 30% boost in visitors between December 2009 and December 2010.
Given the myriad means of accessing social media, it is indeed the most inclusive technology in history. The implications of this are huge. As a child growing up under an oppressive dictatorship in Peru, I lived in a country where the government controlled the flow of information. Those in power determined what messages were disseminated and who had the right to do so. Today, social media provides anyone—regardless of race, gender, religion, physical or mental ability, sexual orientation or socio-economic status—with a virtually uncensored forum to reach the masses.
Recent world events have illustrated the global impact of this all-access technology. Following the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan, people were able to find out the status of loved ones through updates on sites like Facebook and YouTube. Fundraising efforts launched almost immediately, allowing people around the globe to donate money for relief aid. Messages posted on social media outlets prompted young adults in Egypt to gather in protest—a monumental effort that culminated in President Hosni Mubarak abdicating power after a 30-year reign. And, in the United States, we may not have had our first African-American president if it weren’t for the grassroots campaigns that germinated online.
Carlos Dominquez, a self-described nowist and a Senior Vice President in Cisco System’s Office of the Chairman of the Board and CEO, has described the rise of social media as “one of the greatest transformations in the history of mankind.” He contends that companies that leverage these tools will gain a significant competitive advantage, while those that don’t will not be long for the business world.
A good number of companies have recognized this and are harnessing the power that lies within social media. In 2010, 60% of Fortune 500 companies had a corporate Twitter account—a jump from just 35% the previous year, according to a study by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts. Of these companies, 56% were on Facebook and 23% had a public-facing corporate blog.
So far, companies seem to be focused on social media as a means of supporting their marketing and customer service efforts. Diversity practitioners have yet to join the revolution and are missing out on a true inclusion opportunity.
From widening a company’s diversity recruiting net to tapping into trends in globalization to spreading the word about a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, opportunities abound for diversity professionals to engage an inclusive medium that reaches people from all walks of life inside and outside the organization. The growth and impact of this technology show no signs of stopping. In fact, it is going to continue to accelerate exponentially.
Like the companies for which they work, diversity professionals who don’t friend social media now will find themselves wondering what happened. So link up and link in, book some face time, Twitter, YouTube, Digg, Flickr or whatever is just over the horizon. We can’t afford to be missing in action in social media.