Diversity IS an Ethical Responsibility

Dr. Jeanne Persuit, Director of the M.A. Integrated Marketing Communication program at UNCW, has changed the way she teaches diversity and ethics in IMC. Recently, she shared this with the new students in the M.A. program: “I used to teach about diversity and ethics in separate modules. In light of the Black Lives Matter protests surrounding the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, I need to emphasize that a commitment to diversity IS an ethical responsibility.”

The American Marketing Association, in their Statement of Ethics, acknowledges: “As marketers…we not only serve our organizations but also act as stewards of society in creating, facilitating and executing the transactions that are part of the greater economy.” To be ethical, Dr. Chadwick Lee Roberts, UNCW COM faculty member says, practitioners must be “able to give an account of what they have created, one enriched by awareness, research and dialogue regarding diversity and inclusion.” To reach that level of awareness, practitioners must “engage critically with the controlling images and stereotypes of the past that continue to influence our thinking about minority groups” and create messaging that “speaks TO these historically marginalized groups instead of merely THROUGH them.”

Ethical communication and diverse and inclusive messaging are core values of UNCW COM – that’s why, when designing the M.A. in Integrated Marketing Communication, we included the courses Communication Ethics and IMC and Diversity, Inclusion, and the IMC Challenge in the curriculum. Communication Ethics focuses on multiple approaches to help practitioners think deeply about how to be the best possible stewards of society. Diversity, Inclusion and the IMC Challenge addresses integrated marketing communication and branding in terms of ethics, diversity and inclusion. Topics include IMC’s history and role in terms of diversity and messaging as well as cultural, ethnographic and rhetorical approaches to analyzing IMC practice.

Russ Klein, CEO of the American Marketing Association, recently wrote; “It is not a time for passivity…We can do more, be better, and be held accountable for turning tomorrow’s hope into today’s action.” Being better takes more than good intentions; it requires education and a commitment to change.

The M.A. in Integrated Marketing Communication program is fully online, 30 credit hours with six admission cycles per year. Application deadline for Fall 1 is July 25. Classes begin August 24.


Photo by Nicole Baster on Unsplash