10 Ways Your Brand Can Help Women Thrive By Driving Inclusive Representation

Even before the pandemic, women fulfilled multiple responsibilities at once—running a business and a household, caring for family or a community and more. Unfortunately, the pandemic has made it more difficult for women to continue in so many roles. According to LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Co., one in four women are considering scaling back their career or leaving the workforce.

A key reason for this change may be that women bear the brunt of domestic duties. In Facebook’s most recent Global State of Small Business Report created with the OECD and the World Bank, 31% of women business leaders surveyed reported spending more time on domestic tasks than before the pandemic.

Women have faced—and defied—setbacks before. But they shouldn’t have to advance progress alone to achieve the equality they deserve.

Brand leaders can help remove barriers for women by considering how every decision drives inclusive representation. Here are 10 ways to put diversity at the core of your business, with tactics to employ immediately, this quarter and this half.

Support women suppliers

As of 2019, there were 12.9 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., according to a report from American Express. However, these businesses received only 4.75% of federal contracts in fiscal year 2018, reported the U.S. Small Business Association. Organizations can take these steps to support women suppliers:

1. Today: Hire women suppliers using databases like those provided by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).

2. This Quarter: Offer workshops, professional matchmaking events, investment opportunities, training and other resources for women business owners.

3. This Half: Set aside part of your products—and shelf space—for women-owned businesses. When Brother Vellies creative director Aurora James called on brands to commit 15% of their offerings to Black-owned businesses, several retailers in the U.S. and Canada signed the pledge. Consider making a similar commitment for women-owned businesses. At Facebook, we promised to spend at least $1 billion with women and diverse suppliers every year.

Examine how your brand represents women

According to an Unstereotype Alliance study, only 7% of women are shown in non-traditional, unstereotyped roles in advertising around the world. Take these steps to examine how women are represented by your brand.

4. Today: Assess whether your creative contributes to harmful stereotypes. For example, are women in your commercials always cooking or doing laundry? You can use marketing bias auditing tools like the Geena Davis Institute’s GDIQ, which analyzes gender representation for brands and media creators. And the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) assesses the sales lift impact of cultural representation in advertising and media through Cultural Impact Insights Measure (CIIM).

5. This Quarter: Include criteria for gender, race and sexual orientation in your briefs, scripts and casting documents. Consider representing intersectional identities that combine these attributes. To gain inspiration about inclusive marketing, register for Forward Together, a Facebook-hosted content series.

6. This Half: Hire a diverse team so your creative can be more authentic in how it reaches a broader range of women’s voices.

Amplify historically underrepresented voices

Increasing diversity in marketing helps business. According to a global meta-analysis of Facebook ads lift data, diverse representation can increase ad recall. Another study from Deloitte found that brands with the most representative ads saw a 44% average stock increase over two years, 69% better business performance and 83% higher preference.

7. Today: Build awareness for women’s interests during cultural moments like Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. Consider creating social media content commemorating women who’ve made an impact.

8. This Quarter: Invite women to share their stories. On International Women’s Day, Pure Leaf’s “No is Beautiful” social media campaign featured videos of women describing how they’ve said no to distractions in order to say yes to opportunities that changed their lives.

9. This Half: Elevate women’s voices in your product or service. For example, Ancestry’s StoryScout tool quickly sifts through millions of records and can curate stories about your ancestors to help you make meaningful discoveries. In honor of the 2020 centennial of women receiving the right to vote, the tool featured the many people and moments that shaped women’s suffrage and the 19th Amendment.

Collaborate with others working to make a difference

The work of diversity and inclusion doesn’t have to be done in a bubble. Learning from other brand leaders can make a big impact on your own journey.

10. Today: Connect with other leaders also actively working on inclusive representation. Throughout Women’s History Month, Facebook is offering networking and learning opportunities to small businesses and entrepreneurs around the world through our #SheMeansBusiness Spring Training virtual program.

These steps toward greater inclusivity can add up to a sea change for progress. Together, we can eliminate barriers and support women as they seek to accomplish their dreams and serve their communities.

Art by Isabela Humphrey