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Advancing customer diversity, equity, and inclusion: Measurement, stakeholder influence, and the role of marketing

Abstract

Customer diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is an increasingly important societal issue that is intimately linked to the marketing function and yet under-explored in the marketing literature. We draw on DEI literature from related domains and theories-in-use to build a multilevel conceptual framework that identifies external and internal antecedents to an organization’s customer DEI outcomes. Evolving societal norms lead to dynamic and divergent stakeholder priorities that influence customer DEI outcomes over time. Market-based assets and marketing actions play key roles in determining customer DEI outcomes. We implement a novel approach to estimating customer characteristics and test the hypothesized relationships using a dataset featuring over 1.9 million households executing 18 million transactions at 24 nonprofit performing arts organizations over seven years. The results confirm central roles for diverging, dynamic stakeholder priorities, market-based assets, and marketing actions in driving customer DEI outcomes, resulting in increased participation for people of color but not for lower-income households.

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Notes

  1. Retrieved May 6, 2020 from https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/tools-resources/why-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-matter-nonprofits.

  2. Retrieved May 6, 2020 from https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/exempt-purposes-internal-revenue-code-section-501c3.

  3. Retrieved March 9, 2020 at https://www.giarts.org/sites/default/files/GIA-racial-equity-statement-of-purpose.pdf

  4. House Report 113–17 retrieved May 6, 2020 from https://www.congress.gov/congressional-report/113th-congress/house-report/17/1.

  5. Retrieved May 6, 2020 from https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/NEAStrategicPlan2014-2018.pdf.

  6. Performing arts organizations hold “house seats” in reserve to give or sell to VIP customers. They are typically the best seats in the theatre, in the front and center section.

  7. Census block groups are small geographic areas that closely approximate a neighborhood, contain fewer than 1,500 people, on average, and belong to one and only one census tract, which is a small, contiguous geographic area, ideally containing around 4,000 people. The data include 13,344 census tracts and 38,667 block groups, where the average, minimum, and maximum number of block groups per census tract is 3, 1, and 9, respectively.

  8. See https://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/technology/acxiom-the-quiet-giant-of-consumer-database-marketing.html, accessed January 28, 2022.

  9. Collecting personal data through survey methodology is fraught with challenges. For example, nearly 50% of INFORMS members avoid disclosing their race and 40% avoid disclosing their gender (Johnson and Chichirau 2020). Even with access to private and secure medical records, Ganju, Atasoy, McCullough, and Greenwood (2020) were forced to omit an undisclosed number of records due to missing information on race.

  10. Simpson's paradox refers to a phenomenon where two variables have flipped associations conditioning on the inclusion of a third variable in the analysis. For example, two variables may show an unexpected, negative association while adding an additional variable to the analysis can reveal the expected positive associations.

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Acknowledgements

They wish to thank SMU DataArts and TRG Arts for providing data and Texas A&M’s GeoServices for providing geocoding services.

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Park, Y.W., Voss, G.B. & Voss, Z.G. Advancing customer diversity, equity, and inclusion: Measurement, stakeholder influence, and the role of marketing. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-022-00883-6

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Keywords

  • Customer diversity
  • Equity and inclusion
  • Stakeholder theory
  • Racial inequality
  • Income inequality
  • Social responsibility
  • Nonprofit marketing