Westpac, Coles put weight behind driving diversity in media and advertising

Two brands join a list of 21 members of the UN Women Unstereotype Alliance, which officially launches its Australian chapter this week

Westpac and Coles have become national champions for the UN Women Australia’s Unstereotype Alliance chapter, which officially launches this week.

UN Women debuted The Unstereotype Alliance in 2017 as a constructive incubator of ideas as well as an action platform for fostering gender diversity across the advertising, media and marketing community. A key aspect of its work is to secure commitments to drive positive change from across the industry.

The Australian National Chapter is the 10th regional chapter to launch and is supported by 21 businesses in the media and advertising industry. These include global partners – Unilever, IPG and Mars – along with two new national chapter champions – Westpac and Coles.

The full list of founding members and allies also encompasses Accenture, Bayer Australia, Diageo Australia, Facebook Australia, Google Australia, Ikea, IPG, Ipsos Australia, Mastercard Australia, Omnicom, Optus, Publicis Groupe, Salesforce, Snap, Suncorp, Unilever A/NZ, WPP AUNZ and the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA).

In a statement announcing the local launch, representatives said the Covid-19 global pandemic has shone a light on ingrained gender inequalities, social and economic injustices impacting minority and marginalised groups continuing to be perpetuated by the Australian advertising industry. With the local chapter, UN Women is looking to use advertising as a force for good by ensuring more inclusive and diverse portrayals of all people throughout creative processes.

To do this, this alliance is adopting an intersectional approach in order to better address representations of gender, race, ethnicity and ability in media and advertising content. These include undertaking research, creating playbooks and measurement tools to help marketers and agency teams create more progressive unstereotyped communications.

UN Women pointed out the Australian advertising industry contributes approximately $17.3 billion in spend annually and represents $40 billion to the Australian economy. It also employs more than 200,000 people.

“This launch marks a significant milestone in the journey of the alliance,” UN under-secretary-general and UN Women executive director, Sima Bahous, said. “I am pleased to see this growing footprint as I firmly believe in the need for on-the-ground work to drive impact. I congratulate and welcome all the founding members of the Australia national chapter for taking the bold step of embracing the mission and using advertising as a force for good to eliminate harmful stereotypes in all media and content.”

Coles CMO, Lisa Ronson, saw the Unstereotype Alliance as critical to Australia right now.

“The right conversation around harmful gender stereotypes and showing true diversity in advertising and communications, has started and it’s up to Australian business leaders to take it to the next level and truly embed diversity in our communications to reflect an authentic view of Australian society and our customers,” she said.

Westpac head of brand and advertising, Jenny Melhuish, noted Australia’s rich diversity. “Our communities represent many relationships, ethnicities, age groups, and gender. It is imperative we see this authentically featured and celebrated in our advertising, acknowledging and being proud of diversity and inclusion of the Australian community,” she said.

UN Women Australia CEO, Simone Clarke, added representation of community in advertising and media content is critical to creating an equal and open society.

“One of the best ways to ensure that is to have representation across the advertising, marketing, tech and media industry. This group of leaders is coming together to enact real, meaningful change that will impact Australia for the better.”  

For Unilever Australia & New Zealand CEO, Nicole Sparshott, brands need to be a voice for all individuals, not just a few.

“We reach so many people every day, with our brands, through our products and our communication. We have both a responsibility and an opportunity to dismantle the stereotypes that perpetuate bias and cap potential, creativity and agency,” she said.

Mars Wrigley Australia marketing director, Ben Hill, added his concerns about the dangers of widening the diversity gap in Australia as we exit the pandemic.

“The role of advertising can either continue to drive a divide or it can fundamentally change the way all Australians are represented,” he said. “It is critical we address the dangerous stereotypes in all our marketing communications to better represent our wonderfully diverse nation – to celebrate all Australians and to change what has been built by the generations before us for the better.”

Other Unstereotype Alliance chapters are in operation are Brazil, Japan, India, Kenya, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, UAE and the UK.

UN Women was launched by the United Nations to focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment globally.

Want to read more about how Aussie marketing leaders are bringing diversity and inclusion to life in their marketing and advertising? Then check out our special report on diversity and inclusion in the latest edition of CMO magazine, Issue 2, 2021.

Don’t miss out on the wealth of insight and content provided by CMO A/NZ and sign up to our weekly CMO Digest newsletters and information services here.  

You can also follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page





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