Whilst the explosive growth of social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and TikTok has provided unparalleled new opportunities for disabled creatives to tell their authentic stories – the same cannot be said of traditional media which is sorely lagging behind.
This is amongst the key findings of research commissioned by FMCG giant Unilever as part of its Act 2 Unstereotype initiative to support the launch of its ‘Believe In Talent’ campaign. The research entailed a survey of 50 global content creators from the disability community in the U.K., U.S. and Brazil.
The content creators from intersectional disabled communities specialize in sectors as diverse as beauty, lifestyle, food and film were selected to provide their insights on a potential career in the creative industries due to already utilizing creative, writing, video, editing and production skills online.
Some of the key takeaways include the fact that 73% of disabled content creators view the radio, Tv and film industry as exclusionary with 90% stating that people’s attitudes and mindsets have an impact on including more people with disabilities on production sets behind the camera.
Over a quarter (27%) actively identified an industry culture that is unwelcoming and unaware of how to engage with people with disabilities, while (21%) feel they are not represented enough on and off screen to make the creative industries feel like a viable career choice for them.
As a response to these pervasive trends, Unilever last week launched its ‘Believe In Talent’ campaign with a prime focus on driving equity for people with disabilities behind the camera. The new campaign is underpinned by the company’s Act 2 Unstereotype initiative which aims to eradicate harmful stereotypes and systemic bias against minority groups from the marketing and advertising industries.
As part of the campaign, Unilever has announced three core commitments.
The first of these is its inclusive set commitment which will ensure that all Unilever productions over €100k include at least one person with a disability on the production crew.
Additionally, the company has created a new Inclusive Production Toolkit – an open-source guide to best practices in disability-confident inclusive production behind the camera aimed at both production companies and creative agencies.
The toolkit has since been issued to all advertising agencies and production outfits across Unilever’s global portfolio.
Finally, there will be an active collaboration with U.K.-based inclusive job board Evenbreak which helps to match disabled candidates with inclusive employers. If successful in the United Kingdom, the job matching initiative will be rolled out in the United States and Brazil in due course.
Overall, whilst respecting the unique set of abilities and adaptive strategies that each and every disabled creative possesses – the intention behind Unilever’s latest initiative is to enhance the mainstreaming of disabled production talent. Whilst social media remains a wonderful tool for personal brand building and offering much-needed visibility to niche disability lifestyle issues – it remains crucial to have professional input from creatives with disabilities about how products that everybody consumes are currently marketed.
Affirming this goal, Unilever’s Chief Brand Officer and Chief Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer Aline Santos said, “People from the disabled community have been taking the power into their own hands-on social media and driving inclusivity through creativity. We have a great opportunity to do the same in advertising production, tapping into this talent to bring fresh perspective and skills that will naturally increase representation on screen too. We need to be committed to eradicating bias and driving equity for the disabled community to make society more inclusive.”
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