Wunderman Thompson Intelligence’s latest trend report, "Inclusion’s next wave," explores the importance of meaningful action on inclusion and why this is the new imperative for brands and businesses.

One crucial takeaway for brands centers on ‘making space at the table,’ or actively creating opportunities for people from marginalized groups to have influence and get their voices heard. In the following extracts, we hear from four people from diverse backgrounds, who share what inclusion means to them. For more stories like these, see the ‘In Their Words’ interview series in "Inclusion’s next wave."

Sheyenne McCook (she/her), 24, UK

Make-up artist Sheyenne is committed to facing down taboos around her intersectional identity as a biracial person with disabilities (autism, knee problems, anxiety, ADHD & ADD). A social media stalwart, she uses her platform to advocate for and educate on mental health and body positivity.

Diversity and inclusion mean representing my life, not just your life. When organizations write movies or marketing or anything, they write their narrative. And I think they forget that in addition to their view there's also something else.

It's important because films like Encanto or Princess and the Frog allow kids to see themselves represented. Adverts on TV, where they see little black kids and it's positive, as opposed to the kid being naughty, they make all the difference.

Even now, if I see myself represented on TV, I say, "Oh my God. She's like me." Especially now, with the rise of TikTok and just general consumerism, you have access to more people's lives, and you can see more representation. So, you know you're not alone. That's why it means so much because it doesn't divide us like people like to say it does, because we are all one. We're all one race: the human race. I think it brings us close together because there's always going to be someone like you.”

Patrick Kane (he/him), 25, UK

Patrick Kane is a public speaker, writer, ambassador, and catalyst, who has been walking on a prosthetic leg since he was 14 months old and had a bionic arm since the age of 13, when he became the youngest person ever to be fitted with one at that time.

Inclusion means creating a place that everyone is able to participate in. A place in which they're welcome and valid. At the same time, it needs to be done actively and consciously, because doing things unconsciously has got us to where we are today.

And so, it's a case of what can we actively confront and change so that we don't end up, or stay, where we are. I think it needs to be quite drastic and quite considered. It’s important because for a very long time ‘success’ and ‘correct’ has looked one specific way. And I think we're seeing that isn't the case and whilst that benefits one group of people that doesn't benefit anyone else who's outside of that group and it leads to huge disparity and inequality. So, it benefits everyone to have a more open and inclusive world.”

Susie Lim (she/her) 48, USA

Susie Lim, a mother and a creative director, spoke with us about her identity as an Asian American, and some of the experiences she and her family have encountered in recent years.

I think inclusion is equal representation across the board. That doesn't necessarily mean more or less, but equal. When I say equal, I mean at least seeing an Asian female, an Asian male, every representation, in someone's C-class or C-suite.

For work, there was this one video that was taken for a new business pitch, and they realized that every person that was speaking on this video was a white male. And so, they asked me to reread someone's lines because I represent female and Asian. I did reread those lines but that goes to show that this is an afterthought. Or when looking at a video and realizing that everyone is a white male, then I become considered, which is not correct either.

When people need help, I think the brands that reach out or that are responsive are the ones that show that they care. It's just normal; if you see someone fall down, it's the people around you that help you get up that you recognize as the people who care versus the people who just are walking and just watching. Brands that act and react in a timely manner show that they are caring for whatever is happening in the world.”

Haris Tyler (he/him) 25, UK

Haris is an Asian British gay man who lives with his fiancé Alex and their American bulldog Ocean in the North of England. Tyler founded and now co-owns the salon Haus of Haris Tyler. He spoke to Wunderman Thompson Intelligence about living authentically, problematic gay stereotypes and the toxicity of cancel culture.

“Well, inclusion means everything to me, really. My ethnicity, the color of my skin, my sexuality, my gender. For me, it's the thing that keeps me going.

I think it's extremely important to feel respected in your own skin, because you can't change it. And if you can't change something and you're not going to be respected for it - Jesus Christ, it's enough to send anyone over the edge! You just want to feel loved for what you are. So, I think it's the most important thing in the world, to me. Not to be dramatic, but it is.

When Pride Month comes up, a lot of brands jump on it. It's nice for a brand just to generally stand for inclusion and to say that, "We're a diverse brand, and this is what we look at and this is what we do." Because sometimes, I do think brands just don't give a shit most of the time. And then we come straight onto Pride and it's like, "Whoo! All of a sudden, we're all queer.”

Hear more from these interviewees and others in "Inclusion’s next wave," as well as exclusive insight from 18 thought leaders and experts, global quantitative survey results, case studies and brand takeaways.

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