Updated: Feb 23
This post was first published on LinkedIn.
Avenue recently launched an anti-racism initiative to address bias in digital marketing. As artificial intelligence (AI) and online bias become more and more prevalent across the digital landscape, historically underrepresented businesses are unfortunately negatively impacted by both of these trends the most. Avenue is looking to flip the script on this reality. We are gathering information via this survey to identify pain points experienced by businesses owned by members of marginalized groups. The insights will be shared publicly and help Avenue to create free resources and blog content to help businesses who have been negatively impacted by algorithmic bias succeed.
As an Immigrant, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) and woman-owned digital and social media agency, Avenue has lived and learned experience with the connection between Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) and entrepreneurial and business success. Together with consultants and partners, we are doing internal and external learning around the historical and existing barriers to inclusion, which directly impact entrepreneurs of color in their quest to build wealth and success.
This brings us to the task at hand. Our work to support BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ owned businesses, many of whom are part of Mercatus, a business directory and story archive that elevates the unique narratives of entrepreneurs of color in Portland and connects the city and region with diverse businesses. In addition to providing marketing and business consulting to 8-14 Mercatus entrepreneurs of color each year through Prosper Portland’s Digital Marketing Program, Avenue’s survey seeks to understand the barriers similar businesses face in order to create resources that will help redistribute power and provide the opportunity to build wealth for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ owned businesses.
Redistributing Power and Wealth through Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI)
Through our own internal and external conversations around anti-racism, we’ve noticed that justice is often missing from these discussions. And, it is an important omission to take note of. While equity, diversity and inclusion are important practices for a business to include as part of their modus operandi, justice is the act of acknowledging and denouncing racism, working to remove barriers to opportunity and helping to redistribute power and wealth to BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ business owners. Without the action towards justice, historically marginalized businesses continue to be at an extreme disadvantage.
Avenue is committed to JEDI and anti-racism across all facets of our business, and we continue to do the work to address systemic racism. We are committed to focused and sustained action to dismantle racist systems, policies, practices, and ideologies within ourselves and our networks. As we continue to learn about injustice, we embrace radical reorientation of our consciousness and will listen to the voices of Black, Brown, Indigenous and marginalized peoples to catalyze equitable outcomes for all.
Below are some of the barriers and marginalization practices we are seeing in digital marketing:
Lack of access to information, gatekeeping, or steep learning curve
Predatory marketing practices (phishing, misinformation, followers for sale, negative SEO, etc.)
AI/Algorithmic Bias (being negatively affected by bias in AI and social algorithms)
High cost of advertising
Lack of access to agency, consulting or web development services
Unethical competitors/unfair competitive practices in an industry
Challenges understanding analytics
Data access limitations
Ad Policies/Rejected Ads
Through our work and learning, we’ve found there is a real need to help redistribute power to BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ business owners who are struggling to successfully market their businesses online. In this case, knowledge is power. By providing knowledge about these visible and invisible barriers that are holding BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ businesses back from being successful in the digital marketing landscape, we hope to create a more just digital marketing ecosystem for all.
How You Can Help!
We need more historically underrepresented business owners to take our survey. The more feedback, data and insight that we gather, the better. If you are a BIPOC or LGBTQIA+-owned business, please take this survey. If you have BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ business owners in your network, please share this survey with them. We will be sharing the survey insights publicly and creating free digital marketing resources and blog content that will be available to all business owners online. We appreciate your support in helping us to help disadvantaged businesses succeed in the digital landscape.
To thank participants of our survey for taking the time to help us gather this data, Avenue will be selecting three submissions at random to receive a free 1-hour digital marketing consultation with our team. We look forward to providing valuable insights that will help BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs move their businesses forward.
With gratitude. ❤️
For additional reading, please check out these two additional pieces about bias in digital marketing, including Is Your Company Digitally and Socially Responsible? 7 Questions to Ask in the Era of AI Bias and 3 Digitally Responsible Practices for Your Company in the Era of AI Bias.