Empowering Women Series – Gender Sensitization

Contributions can be made to gender sensitization in so many different ways. Are we sensitive enough to see how we can do our bit? This is the story of a large software company that decided they would ensure gender equality through a project called the Gender Equity Image. The aim was to ensure ethical standards be set in respect of all marketing and promotional material vis-à-vis women imagery. And year on year targets were set on improving scores on the same.

 width=A United States based software company, implemented the Gender Equity Image Project to promote gender equality within the company. The goal of the program was to work toward the ongoing improvement of gender representation and the reduction of the use of stereotyping imagery wherever possible. The project strived to ensure ethical marketing standards by respecting the dignity of women in all sales, promotional, and advertising materials.

In 2012 the Corporate Marketing team conducted a benchmark audit to evaluate how gender was represented through imagery in the organization. They reviewed for not only presence of gender based imagery but also gender split and position of power. It was discovered that overall the company relied heavily on the use of non-gender logo based imagery, however, where gender based imagery existed they had an opportunity to improve.

One of the pieces of the improvement plan was to initiate an annual audit of gender representation in various forms of our marketing communications. The audit used an Excel spreadsheet to track a range of image categories and their gender statistics (male only, female only, mix of gender, position of power).

Further, in order to promote the Gender Equity Image Project; the company added language to both the Corporate Editorial Style Guide and Visual Guidelines to educate the marketing and sales organization as well as the agencies they work with to embrace all aspects of diversity, including gender.

images (1)The Symantec Gender Equity Image Project used straightforward and easy-to-understand metrics. Several members of the marketing team evaluated over 300 images across several categories in an effort to understand how gender is represented in the corporate imagery. The initial results were presented to all of the teams with various control areas. Each team committed to a 5 percent improvement in the overall representation of gender in the first year, based on the results of the annual audit.

The project was formalized in 2013. The goal of the project was to increase the percentage of imagery that is considered a positive representation of gender roles. After completing the first gender representation audit, the company worked with its marketing agencies and key stakeholders to set a target of 5% improvement in scores over the first year. They also used the lessons from this project to update the Visual Guidelines and our Corporate Editorial Style Guide in order to educate all groups involved with marketing and sales on the company’s commitment to positive gender representation.