This study explores the intersection of visual communication and diversity (which we call visual diversity), thus further extending previous research (Guthey and Jackson, 2005; Duff, 2010; Reis et al., 2017) with fresh focus on the role and importance of authenticity in visually diverse collateral.
Using a qualitative analysis and a semiotic investigation supported by a visual image interpretation framework developed by Schroeder and Borgerson in 2005, we explore perspectives, identify drivers/barriers to analyse the role of authenticity as it pertains to visual diversity and organisational evolution.
Generating the core of our findings are in-depth interviews, a collection of coded data, an extensive thematic analysis, and seven visual images which both challenge and hence begin to capture the depth and breadth of diversity and identity issues present on social media business profiles (SMBPs).
Drawing on relevant literature and our own findings, we demonstrate that authenticity in visually diverse collateral fosters reputation building and organisational evolution. Together with other revealing insights on workforce composition and the nature of organisational culture, this proves helpful for those communication practitioners interested in progressing their work in accordance to emergent diversity trends.
In this vein, our study charters current phenomena around stereotyping, the journey from diversity to inclusivity, managing SMBPs for the changing firm, achieving corporate legitimacy, finding a corporate soul, and avoiding the authenticity paradox.
We also look at contemporary dilemmas around issues such as stock photographs vs ethical visual representation, to ultimately conclude with a number of recommendations to further progress diversity in HR policies, recruitment strategies, and future research on the organisational purpose behind visual communication.