Intentional Inclusion | Marketing Practices

There are two opposed approaches to recruiting students identifying with marginalized groups to appear in your marketing materials. These are “Intentional Inclusion” and “Targeted Drafting.” The material results (e.g., the photos produced) from the two approaches could be the same, but the objectives of the approaches are different.

Targeted drafting is the pursuit of individuals to achieve visual diversity in marketing materials. In practice, Targeted Drafting might be asking an individual student of color to participate or inauthentically inserting students of color into photographs. Targeted drafting is problematic for three reasons. First, it tends to be coercive and so erodes students’ powers of self-representation. Second, it often characterizes a “check the boxes” approach to diversity, which cares more about appearing than being inclusive. Third, it continues the persistent practice of using marginalized groups for the benefit of the institution and at the expense of the group.

Intentional Inclusion uses promotional practices that appeal to and welcomes marginalized groups. This approach uses less aggressive tactics in order to preserve student power and choice. In practice, Intentional Inclusion might be placing flyers in the Student Multicultural Center, attending a Rainbow Coalition meeting, or asking the president of Nā Haumāna O Hawai‘i to make the group’s members aware of the volunteer opportunity. Ultimately, the goal of Intentional Inclusion is to depict marginalized groups because representation is important for achieving inclusion and equity. That is, Intentional Inclusion seeks representation in order to benefit students.

Students, like anyone else, are eager to help friends, promote their programs or to support institutions that advance their interests. If students are unwilling to volunteer, this is a not failure of the students or your promotional practices. Rather if you cannot recruit students with disabilities, for example, to your photo shoots, this is likely an indicator that your program’s practices are failing to make students with disabilities feel safe, welcome, included or represented. A failure to recruit students of color through intentional marketing is not an excuse to engage in Target Drafting. Instead it is an admonition, an opportunity to review how your program can better serve marginalized groups.