Unstereotype Alliance October All Member Call Follow-up
On October 6th, EACA participated in the Unstereotype Alliance All Member Call.
Chaired by Sara Denby, Head of the Unstereotype Alliance Secretariat, the meeting consisted of two parts: On the Basis of Code, presented by Rachel Lowenstein, Mindshare, Partner, Director of Inclusive Innovation (US) and The Women & Heritage study, explained by Michael Brown, Partner, Insight and Cross Culture, UM UK.
On The Basis of Code
“On the Basis of Code“, a presentation of Mindshare’s Media Dystopia, looks at what media will be like in the next 5 to 10 years and enables clients to think through challenges (that hyperbolically play with current trends) in technology and culture – oftentimes to really terrifying results.
One of the issues tackled by Media Dystopia is the black box problem: “the brightest tech minds can no longer distinguish and tell us how complex algorithms are making decisions”.
Although the ad industry may not be directly held responsible for these issues, it has actually done two things to directly contribute to or create bias systems where they had not previously existed: relevancy and content protection.
Today, computers are blatantly breaking anti-discrimination laws, and the industry is helping them to train for it. By targeting and wanting to reach a certain type of person, the ad industry takes data to say that a certain type of person is more relevant for a product, a service, or a job, which has been found to discriminate across every facet of diversity with our ad targeting.
As per making sure brands were protected from extremist content with an increased level of automation, the way that the ad industry has tackled this so far is through a keyword exclusion list. As an unwanted result, a pro-LGBTQ article would be treated the same as an anti-one if a brand has the word gay in their keyword exclusion list, with the consequence of both being defunded with the same level of severity. Several investigations have found that words that are relevant to women or to the gay and black communities are systemically placed higher on keyword exclusion less than words like shooting “drugs”, “porn” or “killing”.
A Direction is Needed: Four Outcomes
Firstly, brand purpose and brand safety have to be part of the same conversation because, probably unintentionally, what brands stand for and their purposes is somewhat misaligned with how they use brand safety today.
Secondly, although brands are more powerful on the fate of human rights than many governments, the industry does not have any kind of direction of what to do with that power, thus requiring it some sort of guidance. The suggested solution is to slowly burn algorithm bias by doing a lot of work looking for diversity of people everywhere, specifically in technology roles. At the same time, being critical about the data, how they’re being used, and what factors do you think are really important about people.
The third point is that brands need to think less about demographic marketing and more about buying behaviors. Not only this is a way of perpetuating a level of bias, by focusing on demographics first, but a lot of interested people are excluded as a result.
And then, finally, and most simply is just revaluate the keyword exclusion list and audit the brand safety partners.
The Women & Heritage Research
In this panel, UK National Chapter representative Michael Brown, Partner, Insight and Cross Culture, UM UK presented the key findings from the Women and Heritage research – a study on the lived experiences of 2,000 women in the UK.
Louise Gardner, Unstereotype Alliance, opened the presentation giving an overview on the causes that made this study needed – a real lack of available insight covering intersectionality and racial heritage groups to make strategic steps and make our path clear. She explained that the only way of solving them was through asking the groups that were most affected by the existing inequalities and to shine a light on effectively unexplored territory.
The study tries to understand prejudice and the lived experiences of ethnically diverse groups of women resulting from their identities, as part of a broader series of research studies carried out at UN.
An important aspect of the project was to partner up with networks of ethnically diverse people across the communications industry. Through a large-scale research and a quantitative study methodology, 250 women with black African heritage, 250 with black Caribbean heritage, 200 women with South East Asian heritage and 200 with Jewish heritage, 600 women with Southern Asian heritage, were interviewed.
- 81% of respondents overwhelmingly agreed with the statement that discrimination in the UK is widespread, and 63% of them affirmed that discrimination in the UK is getting worse.
- One in three ethnically diverse women in the UK does not feel like an equal citizen in this country.
- Whilst the feeling of inequality is clearly prevalent, respondents have been asked how often they tend to experience a list of different actions and specific harms:
- 10% of minority ethnic heritage in the UK women in the UK face sexual harassment at least weekly
- 14% face physical or emotional bullying at least weekly
- 23% of women with minority ethnic heritage face explicit racism at least monthly
- 31% face subtle acts of racism (microaggressions)
- 37% of minority ethnic heritage women told that they face pressure to look a certain way in order to fit in.
- 66% of ethnically diverse women agree that people can to make assumptions about who they are, before getting to know them.
Read more here.