Is Your Video Content Diverse & Inclusive Enough? New Research Reveals Room for Improvement

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is no longer a "nice to have" for video marketers – it‘s essential for connecting with modern audiences and driving real business results. But new research shows many companies are still missing the mark when it comes to accurately reflecting human diversity in their video content.

Storyblocks‘ 2022 Diversity in Video Report, which analyzed over 250 million searches on its platform, paints a vivid picture of both the progress and remaining gaps around inclusive video.

While searches for diverse content jumped an impressive 104% from 2019 to 2021, less than 20% of overall searches were DEI-related. This suggests that despite growing demand, diverse video is still far from the norm.

"The data doesn‘t lie. 80% of video content is still not truly inclusive," says Storyblocks CEO TJ Leonard. "We have a long way to go to make genuine representation the default – not the exception."

Diversity Is Multidimensional

When asked to visualize diversity, many marketers tend to think first of race and ethnicity. And while that‘s certainly a key component, it‘s far from the only one. Diversity also encompasses:

  • Age & life stage
  • Gender identity & sexual orientation
  • Ability & disability
  • Body size & type
  • Religion & spirituality
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Language & accent
  • Family structure
  • Geography & culture

True inclusion means seeing the full scope and intersectionality of human differences. Yet Storyblocks found glaring imbalances in which aspects of diversity video marketers prioritized:

Diversity Segment % of DEI Searches
BIPOC 28%
Body Diversity 15%
Seniors 12%
LGBTQ+ 8%
Disability 5%
Religion 4%

Source: Storyblocks 2022 Diversity in Video Report

Representation of people of color topped the list, reflecting the impact of racial justice movements. However, other facets like disability and faith were comparatively underrepresented in video searches.

"If you‘re only showing diversity through one lens, you‘re not capturing real human variety," notes Alisia Goodloe, Associate Director of Diversity & Inclusion at GoDaddy. "Inclusion is making sure that all the beautiful differences that make up your audience are seen and valued."

The Black Lives Matter Effect

Searches for videos featuring Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) surged 113% from 2019 to 2021, while downloads rose even more dramatically by 195%.

Much of this momentum can be traced to the spotlight on racial inequity during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests following the tragic murder of George Floyd. Monthly BIPOC searches hit an all-time high in June 2020.

BIPOC video searches and downloads chart

Source: Storyblocks 2022 Diversity in Video Report

"The BLM movement was absolutely a wake-up call for marketers," says Goodloe. "It forced brands to confront whether their content was truly reflecting the realities and voices of Black consumers."

However, it‘s important that depicting diversity doesn‘t come across as opportunistic or reactionary. Inclusion must be a sustained, authentic commitment – not a fleeting trend.

Inclusion Drives Impact

The business benefits of diversity in video marketing are well-documented. Storyblocks‘ report highlights three key findings:

  1. Diversity sells. Ads perceived as diverse had an average stock gain 44% higher than companies with non-diverse ads, per Heat Test Research.

  2. Diversity engages. 64% of people took action after seeing an ad they considered diverse, according to Google.

  3. Diversity attracts talent. 76% of job seekers said a diverse workforce is important when evaluating companies, a Glassdoor survey found.

"Inclusion isn‘t just the right thing to do, it‘s the smart thing," argues Leonard. "Video marketers who fail to prioritize diversity are leaving money, attention and talent on the table."

5 Best Practices for More Inclusive Videos

Ready to ramp up your diverse video content? Here‘s a quick-start guide:

  1. Audit your existing assets. Review your video library and identify opportunities to improve representation. Use a diversity checklist to systematically track inclusion.

  2. Set specific, measurable goals. Establish target metrics for depicting underrepresented groups in your videos. Break goals down by different aspects of diversity.

  3. Partner with diverse creators. Seek out videographers, actors and influencers from diverse communities. Collaborate authentically and compensate fairly.

  4. Integrate DEI end-to-end. Weave inclusion throughout your entire video workflow, from pre-production to distribution. Make sure your team and partners reflect diversity behind the camera too.

  5. Amplify intersectional voices. Tell multilayered stories showcasing people‘s full context and intersecting identities. Avoid stereotypes or tokenism.

"Ultimately, getting diversity right requires cultural competence," advises Alisia Goodloe. "Do your homework, listen to the community you want to represent, and always approach inclusion with humility and openness to feedback."

The Future of Video Is Representation

As demographics continue to shift, the hunger for inclusion will only intensify. Gen Z is on track to be the most diverse generation yet, with nearly half identifying as BIPOC. Videos that fail to depict this emerging majority will rapidly lose relevance.

At the same time, technologies like AI, VR and the metaverse are introducing new frontiers and challenges around equitable representation in synthetic media.

"The algorithms shaping the future of video pose real risks of bias if unchecked," warns Leonard. "We need proactive strategies to ensure they‘re trained on diverse datasets and outputs."

The key is embracing diversity and inclusion as a permanent priority, not a passing trend. Video marketers who commit long-term resources and leadership accountability to DEI will be well-positioned to win the hearts, minds and wallets of next-gen audiences.

"Building genuine diversity and inclusion into your video content is a marathon, not a sprint," sums up Goodloe. "But it‘s a race every brand needs to be running if you want to stay relevant. The future doesn‘t just belong to the swift, but to the representative."

How Inclusive Is Your Video Marketing?

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