DAVOS, Switzerland--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Unveiling research on the importance of ‘The Unstereotyped Mindset’, Unilever urges the world’s most senior leaders to recognise that stereotypes, social norms and unconscious bias are contributing to the ever-widening gender gap.
A new international study, commissioned by Unilever, confirms that underlying gender bias is holding women back at work. The research, which interviewed more than 9,000 men and women across eight markets, revealed that old stereotypes and social norms are prohibiting positive change and that men, women, and senior leaders have a significant role to play.
Keith Weed, Unilever’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, said: “Stereotypes and social norms have a huge impact on gender equality issues globally. Whether consciously or unconsciously we are all subject to the biases in our mindsets. These effects are felt by 60% of women and 49% of men who reported that stereotypes personally impact their career, their personal life, or both.”
Men are increasingly engaged in and are intellectualising the challenge of gender equality but stereotypes still pose a major challenge. An overwhelming 77% of men but also the majority (55%) of women believe that a man is the best choice to lead a high stakes project. More so, men and women overwhelmingly believe that men don’t want women in the C-suite.
The research pinpoints how traditional beliefs and norms are holding women back. Felt by men and women alike, there is a struggle to speak up about workplace discrimination and inappropriate behaviour. A strong majority (67%) of women feel that they are ‘pressured’ to simply ‘get over’ inappropriate behaviour. Just over half (55%) of men and even more (64%) women believe that men do not challenge each other when they witness such behaviour. Unequal division of housework and childcare also stifles progress. Almost half of women see this as a huge barrier to women attaining equality in the workplace but men less so.
Revealing the research in an intimate panel discussion at the 2017 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, Unilever’s Chief Executive Officer, Paul Polman, shared his vision to tackle these issues and called on other leaders to do the same. He said: “Empowering women and girls offers the single biggest opportunity for human development and economic growth. It goes without saying, it’s crucial for business. 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. That’s just not good enough. We need to lead the change in tackling unhelpful stereotypes that hold women – and men – back.”
The research also shows the significant role advertising plays in holding back progress. Nearly three out of four respondents (70%) believe the world would be a better place if today’s children were not exposed to gender stereotypes in media and marketing.
Unilever launched #Unstereotype in 2016 – announcing a global ambition for its 400+ brands to advance advertising away from stereotypical portrayals of gender and to use its platforms to positively and progressively represent both genders.
Keith Weed believes there is much more work to be done: “We’ve seen first-hand the powerful role that advertising can play in shaping social norms and stereotypes and launched #Unstereotype to address this. This new research further underlines the importance of addressing stereotypes in the workplace and beyond.”
Unilever’s report concludes in noting that three out of four respondents (75%) placed responsibility for taking action on senior leaders. Polman said: “We are on a journey to achieve ‘Unstereotyped’ mindsets inside and outside our company. But we can’t do it alone. We are calling for a conscious effort from individuals, government and businesses – big and small – to step up, root out and challenge the stereotypes that feed inequality and halt progress.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home Care, Personal Care and Refreshment products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2 billion consumers a day. It has 169,000 employees and generated sales of €53.3 billion in 2015. Over half (58%) of the company’s footprint is in developing and emerging markets. Unilever has more than 400 brands found in homes around the world, including Persil, Dove, Knorr, Domestos, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Wall’s, PG Tips, Ben & Jerry’s, Marmite, Magnum and Lynx.
We continue to make sustained progress on gender equality in our management across work levels including in our leadership:
- Six out of 12 NEDs are female – 50%
- Total Management: 45% women
- We have enabled around 800,000 women to access initiatives that aimed to develop their skills, made up of 70,000 micro-entrepreneurs in India and around 730,000 on tea smallholdings in Kenya and India
Online interviews were completed among adults 18 years of age and older in the general population (4,029), white-collar employees (3,905) and supply chain employees (1,158) across 8 countries (Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Turkey, U.K. and U.S.) December 2016. Age and gender quotas were established for each country to ensure approximately 50% male/50% female and approximately 50% under/over 35 years of age. All interviews were completed in the participant’s language of choice. This research was conducted by TFQ (The Female Quotient), committed to advancing gender equality globally in the workplace through collaboration, cultural analysis and strategic consulting, and Tillr, a thought leadership, research and brand consultancy dedicated to advancing social responsibility around the world.