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Stereotype-free advertising leads to 1.3x greater purchase intent, according to Unilever report

MANILA, PHILIPPINES  — “I work in beauty, and the reality is no one size fits all. In beauty, it’s all about ‘hiyangan’ and it really means that there are different types of products for different types of people,” Lui Castañeda, PR and Influencer Lead at Unilever Beauty and Wellbeing Southeast Asia (Malaysia/Philippines/Singapore) began in an exclusive interview with adobo Magazine

“The essence of beauty and the whole point of the beauty industry, it thrives on diversity. That also mirrors the consumers’ needs. There are different needs across all consumers, and we need to be representing all the segments in the beauty industry to make it purposive,” she continued. During the recent adobo SheCreative Network Conference on March 28, Lui also highlighted the importance of inclusivity in the beauty industry, touching on Unilever’s core values that champion Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (ED&I). 

As one of the biggest corporations for consumer goods and a herald of self-care, Unilever is utilizing the ED&I approach to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to fulfill their potential. The approach aims to remove barriers on factors that are commonly used as tools to exclude members of society: race and ethnicity, disability, socio-economic status, gender, and sexual orientation among other social issues. By doing so, everyone is presented with the opportunity to live up to their potential and contribute to the benefit of the community. 


Why ED&I is important for businesses

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In a recent report by Unilever, it was stated that there are several benefits for businesses when ED&I is applied. The top reason was the ability to foster better-performing and more innovative teams. It mentioned that inclusive teams are able to achieve the following:

  • 2x as likely to meet or exceed financial targets
  • 6x more likely to be innovative or agile
  • 8x more likely to achieve better business outcomes

Moreover, diverse and inclusive organizations are 70% more likely to capture new markets, and on average enjoy 19% higher innovation revenue.

From an advertising standpoint, materials that are free from gender stereotypes deliver:

  • 1.7x greater brand affinity
  • 1.4x greater ad enjoyment
  • 1.3x greater purchase intent

How Unilever is embodying ED&I in its corporate purpose

Being one of the most trusted household brands globally means that Unilever has a big impact on how consumers could take a step towards a more inclusive community. The company has shown that it takes this responsibility seriously through its corporate purpose: making sustainable living commonplace. Unilever defines “sustainable living” as “living in a way that enables people and the planet to thrive.”

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The company also aims to bring down barriers that limit people because of who they are and their background, giving everyone access to opportunities. Unilever has identified major areas where they are delivering impact to make the biggest difference as a global consumer products company, a major employer, and one of the largest advertisers in the world:

  • Enhancing health and wellbeing
  • Expanding economic opportunity
  • Confronting bias and discrimination
  • Focusing on people who have been excluded or left behind based on:
    • Gender
    • Socio-economic status
    • Sexual orientation
    • Disability
    • Race and ethnicity
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Unilever is also working to “unlimit people’s potential” across their total business footprint by advancing equity for their own people, their suppliers and retailers, their consumers, and the wider society. The company mentions in the report that “treating people with respect and dignity, and providing decent working conditions are the minimum requirements of a level playing field.”

A unified effort to foster equity, diversity, and inclusion

Under Unilever’s strategy to reinforce ED&I across all its platforms, a handful of the company’s most popular brands are making significant movements to implement inclusion and representation in their marketing efforts. 


Hair care brand Sunsilk has established campaigns to help girls gain the vision, support, skills and confidence needed to go beyond social limitations. The brand has partnered with global NGO Girl Rising and developed the educational program Explore More Possibilities. Reaching more than 56,000 young girls from underserved communities in six countries, the program empowers girls to explore their dreams and encourage their strengths through comprehensible sessions, modules, discussions, and workshops.


Modern beauty standards have been heavily influenced by Eurocentric standards. Because of this bias, there’s unfair judgment and discrimination particularly against black women. This includes their hair texture and styles such as braids, locs, and twists that are inherent to their race. 

In the US, there aren’t any protective protocols or laws for race-based discrimination, even if such hairstyles are inherent to a person’s racial identity. This can mean that black women can be denied opportunities for employment or professional advancement without consequence, solely based on how they wear their hair. It also means that black children can be denied entry to school or educational opportunities because of their natural hair.

To correct this course in society, Dove co-founded the CROWN Coalition in partnership with National Urban League, Color Of Change, and Western Center on Law and Poverty in 2019. Together, they advanced the anti-hair discrimination legislation called The CROWN Act which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. In 2020, The CROWN Act became law in seven US states, and the House of Representatives passed the bill at the federal level.


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As the global toothpaste brand that stands for closeness, Closeup is dedicated to championing love of all kinds. In 2021, the Love For All relationship advice portal has been helping diverse kinds of couples to access content such as expert advice, true stories and factoids, and featuring on-the-ground NGO partners.


For over 150 years, Vaseline has been helping heal skin in all corners of the world, and for every generation. But a large part of the community doesn’t have access to equal skin care and treatment. 

In the US, nearly half of dermatologists say they were not adequately trained to treat skin of color. This has sparked a new mission that Vaseline is currently and successfully accomplishing with the help of Medscape and Direct Relief. This partnership between Vaseline, Medscape, and Direct Relief is working to train dermatologists and medical practitioners to better treat skin of color, as well as make more accurate diagnoses and proper care.


rexona move your way unilever article insert

15% of the global population — more than 1 billion people — live with a disability. As part of Unilever’s ED&I initiative, Rexona is taking action to ensure that representation and inclusion are part of its brand values. Its #MoveYourWay campaign is fueled to remove stereotypes from the brand’s advertising, and represent movement in diverse, equitable, and inclusive ways. 

The ripple of impact from brand values to real-life situations

By weaving ED&I into its corporate purpose and encouraging its brands to follow its footsteps, Unilever is leading the way to creating a more inclusive community for all and encouraging even its employees to be envoys of inclusivity.

Lui shared in her talk how brands can contribute to creating safe spaces for people of diverse backgrounds. She mentions that at the core of being “unstereotype” is showing the different facets of people. On a personal note, she divulged that when she says to people that she’s a trans woman, Lui is met with questions that display the stereotype that people still hold to this day. “‘Bakit hindi ka ma-pageant? Bakit hindi ka bombshell?’ It’s that unhealthy stereotype that people have,” she explained. 

It’s prejudices like this that made her think that there’s a responsibility to show different facets of people and profiles to be able to remove the unhealthy images of stereotypes. “I think as a [representative of a] brand, my goal is being able to unveil, unravel, and show a different side of these profiles.”

“There’s still so much to be done in terms of inclusivity in the business industry. I’m aware of my privilege because I have opportunities like access to education, and access to people who can connect me to different business opportunities. But at the same time, I also know that there’s so much more to it that stems from a lack of opportunities for people. I feel that we’re still far ahead. But I think that what I’m trying to do with my work now is being able to open doors for other people the same way that other people have opened doors for me, and it’s to extend that to people who don’t have access or opportunities to business or creative industries.”

Unilever’s dedication to fostering a more welcoming environment for all through ED&I has set the standard for brands to embody values that they would like their own employees and consumers to adopt. With the right mindset, brands can create a closer community one conscious purchase at a time.

Partner with adobo Magazine

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