Minority ethnic women look to brands more than police to tackle injustice – survey

Women of minority ethnic heritage in the UK are more likely to look to brands and companies to help tackle inequality and injustice (71 per cent) than the police (59 per cent), new research suggests.

Ice cream brand Ben & Jerry's released 'Pecan Resist' in the US in 2018 to promote activism and raise money for progressive causes
Ice cream brand Ben & Jerry's released 'Pecan Resist' in the US in 2018 to promote activism and raise money for progressive causes

The nationwide survey of 2,000 women also found 72 per cent of respondents of minority ethnic heritage said they 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.

The survey was commissioned by Unstereotype Alliance – a coalition of brands, agencies, and industry leaders focused on tackling harmful stereotypes through advertising and media – to mark the first anniversary of its UK arm.

Respondents with Middle Eastern and black Caribbean heritage felt they were most negatively represented in ads, while those of Middle Eastern and Southern Asian heritage believed they had the least visibility in advertising, the survey found. YouTube and TV are the media channels believed by respondents to provide the greatest representation of ethnically diverse people.

The survey, by Panelbase, was designed in partnership with Bloom in Colour, Creative Equals, Media for All, People Like Us, WACL and Women in Research. It sought to represent the experiences of women with black African, black Caribbean, Jewish, Middle Eastern, Southern Asian and South-East Asian heritage, as well as white British women for comparison.

The survey also found that more than eight in 10 women with minority ethnic heritage believe discrimination in the UK is widespread, with 63 per cent agreeing that it is getting worse – one in 10 face sexual harassment, and 14 per cent face physical or emotional bullying, at least weekly.

The one-year anniversary of the Unstereotype Alliance's UK chapter was marked with an event at the Houses of Parliament to review progress in the first year. Convened by UN Women, the UK chapter is the largest in the alliance’s nine national chapters, with 24 members and 10 allies comprised of brands, agencies, industry bodies and media organisations. LinkedIn was announced as a new member, with industry body CEW (Cosmetic Executive Women) joining as an ally.

Claire Barnett, executive director of UN Women UK, said: “The pandemic has exposed even more clearly the extent of the intersecting inequalities in our society, and the economic disadvantages that marginalised people face – in particular, women of colour. If we are to build back better from COVID-19, none of us can afford to stay in our lane. Brands and private sector organisations have a huge role to play in eliminating harmful stereotypes from their own communications, as well as contributing to tackling prejudice in wider society."

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