Unstereotype Alliance UK marks first anniversary with study on women of colour’s experience

The study interviewed 2000 women across the UK.

Unstereotype Alliance: founded by UN Women in 2017
Unstereotype Alliance: founded by UN Women in 2017

The UK chapter of the Unstereotype Alliance, a coalition of brands working to break down harmful stereotypes, celebrates its first anniversary today and is hosting an event at the Houses of Parliament.

Unstereotype Alliance members and allies will convene at the event to review the progress made by the group over the past year. Media agency and Unstereotype Alliance member UM has also revealed the results of a study, which focused on the experiences of UK women with ethnic heritage.

The survey, supported by Panelbase, was designed in partnership with Bloom in Colour, Creative Equals, Media for All, People Like Us, WACL and Wire (Women in Research). 

Having interviewed 2,000 women in the UK, it found that 72% of women of colour are likely to buy products or services from brands and companies that feature people of ethnicity in their advertising in a positive and authentic way. Meanwhile, women with Middle Eastern and black Caribbean heritage felt they were the most negatively represented in ads.

Formed by UN Women, the Unstereotype Alliance was founded in 2017 to eradicate harmful stereotypes in advertising through the influence of the global advertising industry. Its UK Chapter seeks to tackle inequalities in the country, with a particular focus on the prejudices facing women of colour.

Keith Weed, president of the Advertising Association, founding member of the Unstereotype Alliance and former Unilever marketing boss, said: “The topline findings from the research tell a very concerning story. People’s ethnic heritage can come with baggage and labels that can hold women back.

"This can’t continue, it holds them and all of us back. However, how brands represent people and society in their advertising has been proven to make a difference and all brands can make a great impact by working with us to accelerate change.”

Rachel Forde, chief executive of UM UK, added: “At UM, we are completely committed to using the ability, influence and privilege we have as an agency to make a better and fairer world. Since 2017, we have focused our thought leadership on understanding stereotyping and prejudice in society – and the role of ads in tackling them. As a member of the Alliance, we are so proud to be able to support with this important new study. Thank you to all our amazing project partners.”

The UK chapter is the largest of the nine branches of Unstereotype Alliance, which spans Brazil, India and Japan. The UK group hosts 24 members and 10 allies. Global brands including Unilever, Sky, Facebook, Google and LinkedIn are members, with industry body Cosmetic Executive Women recently announced as an ally.

Unstereotype Alliance allies also include the ASA, IPA and WACL.

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