As the world evolves and society shifts gears, keeping a pulse on global opinions about macro-level social issues such as diversity is becoming increasingly important.
With so many factors contributing to differences in perceptions and beliefs, it should come as no surprise that the way people speak about diversity varies between countries. Opinions on diversity are formed through our lived experiences, misconceptions and biases which can take time to overcome.
Using text analysis to understand opinions on diversity
To find out how opinions on diversity differ across the world, we used Relative Insight’s text analytics platform to analyse tweets from five English speaking countries – US, UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
Plotting social data from each country on a Heatmap, we could see where the conversation on diversity was most and least different. Our analysis revealed that the conversation was most different between the US and Australia, the US and New Zealand and the US and the UK. Using Relative Insight Explore, we delved into each pair of countries further.
Different types of diversity
An overarching theme revealed by our analysis was that each country has a different focus which over indexes in conversations on diversity.
For instance, in the US, the conversation on diversity is 9.1x more likely to centre around race than in the UK. Americans talk about white supremacy, civil rights and marginalised groups highlighting the effect of an oppressive history on attempts to move towards a more diverse and inclusive society.
Tweets from US audiences also mention systemic racism as a reason for a lack of diversity in areas such as government and employment. Phrases such as affirmative action and diversity hire are also more prevalent, although opinions on this trend appear to be conflicting. Some Twitter users see diversity hiring as a positive process. Others, however, see it as reverse discrimination. In both instances, the terms are highly politicised and point to a wider societal issue.
In contrast, British conversations on social media are 3.2x more likely to focus on representations of people living with a disability. The general opinion of British audiences is that when it comes to diversity, disability is often overlooked. Brands, advertisers and entertainment companies in the UK should take note and aim to create more content featuring people with disabilities.
When comparing tweets from the US and New Zealand, a standout insight is that Kiwi audiences are more likely to centre their discussions of diversity around indigenous peoples. New Zealanders talk about indigenous and Maori representation, and the importance of giving a platform to diverse voices. In terms of dealing with the impact of colonialism, New Zealand are leading the way on reparations for indigenous peoples. Clearly, this is a facet of diversity that is of vital importance for New Zealanders.
In 2020, research by Deakin university found that 75% of television presenters, commentators and reporters in Australia were from an Anglo-Celtic background, highlighting the lack of diversity in the media. We found that media diversity was still a hot topic amongst Australian audiences, appearing 82.2x more in this data set. The narrative around Australian media emphasises its failure to properly represent Australians. However, social discourse reflects a commitment and need to increase representation – a key audience insight for media outlets.
Another theme we identified across both UK and US tweets about diversity was representation in professional sports. The American conversation on diversity in sports focuses largely on the lack of diversity amongst head coaches in both the NBA and NFL. Similarly, the social commentary in the UK pivots around the underrepresentation of BAME athletes in professional sports.
Naturally, words such as football, cricket and F1 are more common amongst British audiences, whereas NBA and NFL over-index in US conversations. While these words understandably appear as linguistic differences in the platform, it’s clear that both audiences recognise the importance of diversity in sports. Sports provides a platform for social change, as we have seen with Marcus Rashford’s campaign to end child poverty, and both UK and US demographics believe more could be done.
Throughout our analysis, the idea of on-screen representation surfaced in social conversations of American and British audiences.
In contrast to Brits, Americans commented on representation in movies and Hollywood, speaking about how the industry could continue to improve its practices and diversify portrayals of body types, race and characters. In recent times, Hollywood has come under scrutiny for failing to represent diversity, both on-screen and off-screen. As the industry looks to implement changes, tracking sentiment towards Hollywood could help entertainment companies keep a pulse on opinions as they continue to evolve.
When we look at the conversation in the UK, rather than discussing representation in movies, Brits speak of diversity in adverts and various UK programs such as Love Island and Strictly Come Dancing. What’s clear is that viewers want to see diversity and are more engaged when programs demonstrate they are committed to being more inclusive (e.g. Strictly Come Dancing’s 2021 rebrand). Similarly, Brits are equally aware when a program (such as Love Island) significantly misses the mark.
Why does this matter?
Diversity is a word that means a lot of different things to different people. Analysing conversations from different countries can help organisations understand and act on the differing expectations of consumers. Our analysis makes it clear that a one size fits all approach will not work for organisations wanting to authentically contribute to social change. Instead, they need to tailor their diversity strategies to reflect the unique viewpoints of their differentiated target audiences.
Relative Insight’s discovery-based approach to text analysis enables brands to get an objective view into qualitative data to truly understand how to communicate with different demographics. If you’re interested in finding out more, get in touch to arrange a chat with one of our experts.