Diversity and inclusion: Turning intentions into actions

In the third episode of the Marketing Masters podcast, we speak with Sanyu Dillon, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer at Penguin Random House. In the wake of Juneteenth and Pride Month, which have seen numerous reports of well-known brands engaging in ‘virtue signalling,’ we discuss the role marketing leaders must play in ensuring their commitment to diversity and inclusion is authentic, consistent, and backed up by action.

Dillon describes the need for marketing leaders to develop ‘cultural fluency’: To have a deep understanding of your audience and the multicultural nuances that exist within it. She emphasizes the importance of being audience and community-led in this approach, and how to put this mindset into practice:

  • Data: Whilst qualitative and anecdotal data points on the need for diversity and inclusion are often extremely powerful, quantitative data is also vital when holding yourself to account. As an example, Dillon provides insight on an anti-racism rubric that should be applied in all areas, even when invisible to the audience.
  • Internal workforce: Intention is not enough. Marketing leaders should ensure recruiting relationships are in place with partners and agencies to mitigate bias within hiring processes. Equity is also vital. When representation only exists at the junior level, marketing leaders are not building an equitable workforce.
  • External Partners: Dillon discusses the importance of empowering your external partners and giving them the platform to share their voice. We examine ‘All Ways Black,’ a platform launched by Penguin Random House but run by their partner Cree Miles.

This podcast focuses on how marketing leaders can move from intentions to actions with respect to diversity and inclusion.


0:26 – Introduction to Sanyu Dillon, EVP and CMO at Penguin Random House

1:29 – What makes a great marketing leader?

2:42 – What is the danger for brands engaging in virtue signalling?

5:10 – How is the landscape changing with respect to diversity and inclusion?

6:40 – What is cultural fluency and how can marketing leaders build towards it?

8:04 – What role can data play for marketing leaders in building for inclusivity?

9:22 – How can marketing leaders make sure they are diversifying their workforce?

14:49 – What should marketing leaders be doing with their external partners?

17:40 – Looking at the ‘All Ways Black’ Platform as a brief case study of external partner strategy.

21:09 – What does the future hold for inclusivity within marketing?

Sanyu Dillon is EVP and Chief Marketing Officer at Penguin Random House U.S. Sanyu is a member of the Penguin Random House U.S. Board and has an Executive MBA from NYU Stern School of Business.

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