You wouldn’t think that it’s 2020 and sexism in B2B marketing is still a problem. But I’d be a liar if I said that it didn’t still exist. It ranges from using stock photos of beautiful women with large breasts sitting in unnatural, suggestive poses, to gender stereotypes of women in inferior positions portrayed as entry-level secretaries serving their male-manager counterparts.
While progress is being made every day (and the UK has taken the lead by banning sexism in advertising), we still have a long way to go before it’s eliminated entirely. As a marketer, being conscious of the ways we portray women in all marketing materials and content is a must. Here’s what you can do to ensure that you don’t fall into the sexism trap:
Review your content with a fine-tooth comb
It’s easy to overlook potentially sexist images and text when you do it quickly. Take the time to thoroughly review each caption, each image, each scenario … are women and men held to the same standards? Is one always in a preferential position over another? Are your descriptions gender neutral? Reviewing your content with these questions in mind will help make sure that nothing falls through the cracks.
Gone are the Mad-Men days of old! Having women on your executive team is a big part of the equality equation. Not only should they help contribute to ensure that sexism doesn’t creep into your content, but they should help bring potentially sexist scenarios to light as they may be easy for male colleagues to overlook. Sometimes it’s completely unintentional to include sexism in marketing because many are just unaware that something could be perceived as sexist. By including women in the decision-making process you’ll naturally help level the playing field.
Train your sales execs
Providing awareness training to your sales team will help ensure that they don’t treat women prospects differently from men. You’d be surprised at how many sales execs still try to flirt, or say inappropriate remarks to women (both inside and outside the organization). Sexual harassment training should be mandatory for all since it has no place in the workplace today.
Make it a company priority
By establishing a policy of equal opportunity and zero tolerance for sexism, your company values will reflect higher standards from the top down. Making this a priority company-wide from internal procedures and recruitment strategies, to outward facing marketing messages, will help ensure that your organization emphasizes the importance of such initiatives.
Awareness of the problem is the first step on the road to recovery. By taking a stand against companies whose marketing is clearly sexist we can help put a stop to such practices in the future. It is important not only to condemn those that are oblivious to sexism in their content, but to support the companies who make a concerted effort to eliminate it.
This blog post was originally published on 08 March 2019 and updated for new information.