Fearless Inclusivity

By Dorothy Dowling

Wednesday July 5, 2017

Sometimes, you just have to say “bring it on.”

Since it was first put in place earlier this year, Fearless Girl, a small bronze statue of a young girl purposefully facing Charging Bull, another infamous sculpture, immediately became quite the attraction, generating plenty of sensationalized media coverage and drawing countless tourists (myself included) to New York City’s Financial District. However, not everyone is a fan of the brave little statue. Some, including the creator of Charging Bull, Arturo Di Modica, claim that Fearless Girl alters the meaning of the bull statue. While it may be fun or engaging to join either side of the debate, I wanted to share my own perspective on Fearless Girl and why I made a special pilgrimage to see her during a recent trip to New York City.

While there is undeniable validity to the argument from the side favoring Di Modica’s Charging Bull, Fearless Girl’s message of promoting gender diversity in senior leadership is something that deeply resonates with me. From a marketing perspective, women play a vital role in the decision making process today. Hearing their voices and promoting a message that connects with them is a must. As I discussed in my It’s Personal post, “The ‘Sheconomy’ Is Here,” women are the majority of consumers with a total purchasing power estimated to be between $5 and $15 trillion, according to Iconoculture. Women also manage the finances in most U.S. households and make 85 percent of all consumer purchasing decisions.

Yes, it is essential for businesses and brands to connect and engage with women, but we can go one step further. We should constantly push ourselves to be more inclusive in our decision making process because we can make a meaningful connection with any consumer. As I said in my last post, “The Value of Dissent,” having diversity of thought helps us make more informed decisions, and that leads to better business outcomes.

For over a decade, one of our main goals at Best Western has been to broaden our focus in order to embrace new customers that are very meaningful to us. In 2011, we introduced our descriptor branding program – Best Western®, Best Western Plus® and Best Western Premier® – to the world. Six years later, Best Western has broadened its horizons, expanding to 10 unique hotel brands, each one enhancing the types of products we have to provide solutions to our customers in markets around the world.

Aside from inclusivity, I had one more takeaway from Fearless Girl. While many focus on her gender, I think it’s also important to notice her age. Just look at her facial expression and pose. Even though she is face-to-face with a menacing bull, her facial expression remains calm and unfazed. And then, striking a Wonder Woman pose, she has her clenched fists on her hips, as if she is about to challenge the bull to, “bring it on!”

That sense of youthful, energetic confidence, or that “bring it on” spirit, can be found in just about every child. I certainly remember seeing it in my son. As we age, our “bring it on” spirit sometimes fades as we conform to cultural expectations. For instance, we may become more timid when it comes to speaking our mind, especially when our peers are in earshot, or perhaps we doubt our abilities to accomplish a task that is either new or feels much bigger than us.

What if we were able to recapture that youthful spirit toward our adult-sized challenges? Imagine what we would be able to accomplish. Surely, adopting a more inclusive approach in business to embrace all customer voices would not be such a difficult transition. We could also prove that in this OMG marketplace, where business trends continue to become less routine and evolve at an accelerated rate, that embracing our fears and taking a “bring it on” attitude will allow us to innovate and explore opportunities and challenges with the curiosity and zeal that the “new normal” requires. As the plaque below Fearless Girl reads, “SHE makes a difference,” and so can we.