The Unstereotype Alliance just released its State of the Industry report for 2023. The Unstereotype Alliance, which was convened by UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality, seeks to bring together partners to collectively use the advertising industry as a force for good to drive positive change all over the world. The report was released in connection with the Unstereotype Alliance's Global Member Summit, which is being held this week at the United Nations.

Some of the key findings from the "State of the Industry" report include:

  • Women are increasingly given more screen time in commercials;
  • Screen time for women is high in Argentina, India, Pakistan, Peru, and Saudi Arabia and low in the Czech Republic, France, Italy, and the Netherlands;
  • Across ads that show both men and women, women's prominence has stayed the same;
  • Women and men under 40 are over-represented in advertising;
  • Representation of women and men with diverse body types remains low;
  • Representation of individuals from diverse ethic origins remains low, though it is most prominent in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, the UK, and the United States;
  • Representation of people with disabilities is very low, and even when present, stereotypical portrayals persist; and
  • Representation of the LGBTIQ+ community in advertising remains low as well.

I was very pleased to attend the Summit with representatives from the International Council for Advertising Self-Regulation, and even more pleased to see that the report cited ICAS's work in this area. The report wrote, "Advertising self-regulatory bodies play an instrumental role in receiving complaints about stereotyped and inappropriate ads, evaluating content, and removing content that violates said regulations. The regulatory ecosystem is now taking it a step further, moving towards the proactive encouragement of diverse and inclusive content development. In April 2023, the International Council for Advertising Self-Regulation (ICAS) announced the launch of the new DEI Award category . . . to encourage global advertising standards bodies to support initiatives for more diverse and inclusive ads."

Some key recommendations in the report relating to achieving unstereotyped advertising include:

  • Evaluate the screen time and presence of women and underrepresented groups within ads;
  • Ensure portrayals are authentic and strengths-based; and
  • Recognize that "who makes the work, shapes the work," thus diverse representation throughout the entire creative process is essential to ensuring authentic and unstereotyped portrayals.

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