'Unstereotyped Mindset’ Key to Unlocking Gender Equality in the Workplace: New Unilever Research. 19/1/2017


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.

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.

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.”

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

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.”

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.”