UN Women-convened Unstereotype Alliance announces the rise of silent stereotypers, as it is revealed societies are awash with harmful stereotyping

Cannes, France – The Unstereotype Alliance, an industry-led coalition convened by UN Women to eradicate harmful stereotypes in advertising, today reveals society is awash with harmful stereotyping, with marginalized communities targeted in particular in their day-to-day lives.

Globally, three in four (73%) people state they regularly see or hear stereotyping yet only one in three (30%) will frequently say something to object to it. Half (50%) believe people do not speak up or disagree when they see someone using a negative stereotype, because they do not want to escalate the situation. Additionally, two in five (41%) believe people do not speak up or disagree with the perpetrator because they do not know what to say, highlighting an education gap on how to take a constructive stand against stereotypes.

UN Women-convened Unstereotype Alliance announces the rise of silent stereotypers, as it is revealed societies are awash with harmful stereotyping

The research, conducted across Brazil, South Africa, Türkiye, USA and UK, found that the stereotypes people experience most frequently are those of gender (57 per cent), race and ethnicity (52 per cent), sexual orientation (45 per cent) and disability (45 per cent). And that almost two thirds (63 per cent) of people believe it has become a bigger problem in recent years. Despite this, the focus is only ever on the perpetrator and victim, and not on those who stayed silent and allowed stereotyping to happen.

In response, the Unstereotype Alliance has announced 'Say Nothing, Change Nothing' a global campaign designed to mobilize public action. The campaign, spearheaded by star of the Black Panther movies, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and long-time activist for women’s rights, Danai Gurira, aims to raise awareness of the pervasive role harmful stereotypes play in society. The goal is to encourage conversation on the issue and provide people with resources and educational tools to proactively and safely take action. A helpful guide, Unstereotype 101, will be available from today, which explains how to safely confront stereotypes and enables people to become upstanders rather than bystanders, with three quick steps to standing up to stereotypes: Stop, See, Suggest. 

Explaining her involvement, Danai Gurira, said: “Shattering stereotypes requires defiance. It isn't always easy for people to speak out but, without change, damaging perspectives remain unchecked. We must all have the courage to stand up for what is right, and say something".  

Sara Denby, Head of the Unstereotype Alliance Secretariat at UN Women, said: “For the past six years, the Unstereotype Alliance has united advertising industry leaders, decision-makers and creatives on a shared goal: to end harmful stereotypes in advertising. Despite the headway made across the industry, stereotypes are rife the world over. They continue to stifle progress in every society, deny human rights, and diminish entire groups of people in ways that have real-life consequences. The launch of our Say Nothing, Change Nothing campaign aims to catalyze a positive movement against stereotypes. Collective action can help us drive the positive social change in society which is so desperately needed.” 

The social-first campaign will focus on talking to Generation Z in particular, after two in five (44 per cent) of 18 – 30-year-olds said they would refer to social media for more information on standing up against stereotypes. A social media movement #IWishIHadSaid will be triggered by Danai Gurira, encouraging audiences to share their own experiences of stereotyping and the times they wish they had spoken up. 

The campaign was produced in partnership with Unilever as a Vice Chair and co-champion of the Unstereotype Alliance. Aline Santos, Chief Brand Officer and Chief Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Unilever said: “Stereotyping happens around us every day. But we all have the power to change that—by using our voices. The Say Nothing Change Nothing campaign highlights that it is everyone's responsibility to help stop the perpetuating cycle of stereotypes. By sharing practical tools and encouraging conversation around this topic, we can give people the confidence to move from being a bystander to becoming an upstander. Together our voices can make a monumental difference to breaking down stereotypes to create a more equitable world.”

The Unstereotype Alliance has also released three pieces of film: The CandidateThe Game and The Winner, which cover issues of stereotyping linked to race, gender and disability and adopt a creative effect of 'face-bombing’. In each scenario, a perpetrator inflicts a stereotype while a group of bystanders remain silent. The moment the bystanders choose not to speak up against the stereotype, the face of the perpetrator is morphed onto each of their faces, visually symbolising that silence is complicity. Developed and produced by Unstereotype Alliance members, the films provide another essential asset to build awareness of the issues. 

Please visit www.break-stereotypes.org to download the Unstereotype 101 guide, a helpful resource for people around the world to safely speak out against stereotypes and become proactive allies for driving positive global change.