“There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.” Leroy Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther Party
Last year I wrote an article on LinkedIn called “It’s time to tackle the isms.” It’s an inarguable fact that we live in a world with many problems. So from the state of the environment to the state of society, how can your business make a positive difference?
Consider how you might be contributing to the problem.
Does your business make or sell products that perpetuate a harmful stereotype?
Your instinct may be to say no, but take a closer look. It may not be as obviously problematic as a range of products for him and her branded in pink and blue.
I find my clients are often surprised that the language and imagery that they use on their websites or via social media doesn’t necessarily reflect how liberal and inclusive that they are. If your pictures feature families for examples, are they really reflective of our society which has mixed race couples, same gender couples, couples with age gaps, single parents or adoptive or foster parents?
People buy from people and if your pictures are not representative of your audience, then your promotions will be less effective than those which your audience can identify with. It works the same when you’re recruiting – saying you’re an equal opportunities employer is one thing, but if every picture on your website is of a white, able man in his thirties wearing a suit, then consider how this may subconsciously alienate women, people of colour, older people or those with disabilities.
It may not seem like a big deal (and it may even be due to limited resources on stock image sites rather than your own photography choices) but unless you promote your business using imagery and language that seeks to normalise and celebrate existing differences in gender, age, race, ability, sexuality, belief and socioeconomic status, you are contributing to the drip feed of information that collectively creates harmful climates such as everyday sexism, toxic masculinity and even rape culture.
Make a change.
Whether you discover that you need to stop perpetuating harmful stereotypes, stop advertising in publications which are funding hatred or whether you begin a mission to reduce the waste produced by your business, be the change you want to see in the world. And if you’re really not sure where to start, here’s a gift to you my essential reading list for the intersectional feminist. Or get in touch for a consultation.