Unilever calls on leaders to drive fight against stereotyping

New global research from the marketer finds pervasive assumptions about gender.

Unilever CEO Paul Polman
Unilever CEO Paul Polman

Unilever chief executive Paul Polman and chief marketing officer Keith Weed have called on political and business leaders to recognize the effect of stereotyping and take action to tackle it.

The CPG giant has unveiled a study that surveyed more than 9,000 people in eight countries: Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S.

It found that gender stereotypes both are highly pervasive, and have a significant impact on people’s lives.

Among the findings were that:

  • 60% of women and 49% of men say that stereotypes personally impact their career, personal life, or both;

  • 77% of men and 55% of women believe that a man is the best choice to lead a high-stakes project;

  • Two thirds (67S%) of women feel they are "pressured" to simply "get over" inappropriate behavior;

  • The majority of both men (55%) and women (64%) believe that men do not challenge each other when they witness such behavior;

  • A large majority, 70%, of respondents believe the world would be a better place if children were not exposed to gender stereotypes in media and marketing;

  • 75% said it was the responsibility of senior leaders to take action

The research comes seven months after Unilever launched #Unstereotype, its ambition to completely eradicate gender stereotypes for its ads.

"Stereotypes and social norms have a huge impact on gender equality issues globally," Weed said. "Whether consciously or unconsciously we are all subject to the biases in our mindsets."

The survey sample was a mix of Unilever employees and members of the general public and was split roughly equally between men and women. Polman and Weed unveiled the research at a panel discussion at the 2017 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

"The World Economic Forum’s latest Gender Gap Report notes that we may not achieve economic equality among men and women for another 170 years," added Polman. "That’s just not good enough. We need to lead the change in tackling unhelpful stereotypes that hold women—and men—back."

This story first appeared on campaignlive.co.uk.

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