United Nations Headquarters, New York – 17 & 18 November 2022 – The Unstereotype Alliance, an industry-led coalition convened by UN Women to eradicate harmful stereotypes in advertising content, gathered leaders of the global advertising community, academics, and celebrities to discuss how to tackle systemic stereotyping in advertising.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever actor, award-winning playwright and activist Danai Gurira delivered a powerful keynote address as UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador for dismantling gender norms and harmful stereotypes through her partnership with the Unstereotype Alliance. Gurira shared personal experiences describing how strong personal conviction, saying ‘no’, and intentional storytelling have been integral to defy the stereotypes she has encountered. Gurira spoke on stereotype-shattering roles including her starring role as General Okoye in the Black Panther sequel and underlined the importance of mobilizing youth voices to dismantle stereotypes and create social change. In conversation with Jess Weiner, CEO & Founder of Talk to Jess, Gurira called on the audience to be consistently defiant against stereotypes and called for personal and collective advocacy to drive sustainable, systemic change. Watch the full conversation here.
Transgender model, activist and contributing editor of Vogue UK, Munroe Bergdorf, joined a discussion with Jess Weiner and urged brands to support under-represented communities and safety-proof from backlash by building campaigns with those communities. Jaime Garcia, Insights & Partnerships Lead at Social Progress Imperative delivered a keynote address and explained that collaboration and measurement will help shift the needle towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Unstereotype Alliance, which celebrated its fifth anniversary in June, acknowledged achievements of its 237 member-strong collective of advertisers, creative agency networks and media platforms, including +867% growth since launch with 12 national chapters across five continents and continuous improvement of progressive advertising content reflected in its proprietary Unstereotype Metric scores.
Recognising UN Women’s call for urgent progress of the SDGs, members from over 15 countries gathered at the Summit to collaborate on shaping the next phase of the Unstereotype Alliance. Renewed focus areas for the global collective include tackling bias and stereotypes in media, enhancing employee engagement to scale impact, and acting on equity to create a fairer industry.
Further discussions on the evolution of body positivity including those living with a disability, harmful masculinities in advertising, and adopting an intersectional approach to sports sponsorship, concluded with commitments from members to form specific working groups in 2023 to tackle these topics.
During the Summit, the Unstereotype Alliance released the findings of the State of the Industry 2 which showed some incremental improvements of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the industry, but warn that inequity persists.
The research, which examines progress across three pillars - fostering workplace equality, achieving unstereotyped advertising, and empowering public action against stereotypes - highlights improvements since the launch of the first State of the Industry report in 2021. Advancements in workplace data collection, greater representation of women and racial and ethnic diversity across the industry, and increased visibility of women in advertising content were noted.
Despite some gains in workplace representation, under-represented groups remain low across the industry workforce and in advertising content. This includes people living with disabilities and members of the LGBTIQ+ community. A lack of belonging was also reported among under-represented and underserved groups. Recommendations to close persisting gaps include accelerated efforts in intersectional data collection to understand representational realities, inclusive workplace cultures where individuals in all their diversity feel welcome and consistent efforts to Unstereotype ad content. Further detail can be found here.
Sima Bahous, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women, said: “As convenors of the Unstereotype Alliance, UN Women is immensely proud of this global partnership and the achievements to date. With just a few years to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, this collective is a force for speeding progress, increasing accountability and deepening partnerships for a more inclusive society where everybody prospers, and no-one is left behind.”
Aline Santos, Chief Brand Officer & Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Unilever, said:“Real change takes time, and it often feels like a crawl rather than a march! We know that change is not happening at the pace we would like but to accelerate progress, we must work together. The Unstereotype Alliance is a beacon example of private sector industries, advocacy groups and government working side by side to tackle systemic stereotyping across the advertising industry. The impact is unmistakable and a true reminder to keep pushing for change no matter how hard.”
Dale Green, Global Director, Purpose Marketing said:“We believe brands have the power to make a meaningful and measurable difference and can influence society for good. When we embarked on this journey five years ago as founding members of the Unstereotype Alliance, we knew that we could raise the bar through partnership and collaboration. Together, we can address harmful stereotypes and bias to drive change.”
About Unstereotype Alliance
The Unstereotype Alliance seeks to eradicate harmful stereotypes from advertising and media to help create a more equal world. Convened by UN Women, the Alliance collectively acts to empower people in all their diversity (including gender, race, class, age, ability, ethnicity, religion, and sexuality) by using advertising as a force for good to drive positive change all over the world. Since the Unstereotype Alliance’s formation in 2017, national chapters have launched in 12 countries across five continents to tackle culturally nuanced stereotypes on the ground (http://www.unstereotypealliance.org).
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