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Unstereotype 101 Guide: How to speak out against stereotypes


A new Unstereotype Alliance campaign, ‘Say Nothing, Change Nothing’, co-piloted by Unilever, looks to help people go from bystanders to upstanders in the face of everyday stereotypes.

Aline Santos standing on a stage with a background sign with the words ‘Say Nothing, Change Nothing’

The Unstereotype Alliance, convened by UN Women and co-founded by Unilever, is an industry-led coalition working to eradicate harmful stereotypes in advertising.

Global research, commissioned by the Alliance and conducted by Ipsos, revealed the extent of everyday stereotypes and people’s responses to them.

It found that 73% of people regularly see or hear stereotyping. And yet only 30% who see or hear them happening say something or intervene.

Two universal reasons emerged for people’s silence – 50% don’t want to escalate the situation and 41% simply don’t know what to say.

As a result of this, the Unstereotype Alliance has launched a new campaign called ‘Say Nothing, Change Nothing’, co-piloted by Unilever.

The campaign highlights the collective power of standing up and speaking out against stereotypes and has been spearheaded by the star of Black Panther, actor, playwright, women’s rights activist and UN Goodwill Ambassador, Danai Gurira.

Unstereotype 101 Guide: How to deal with stereotypes

If you ‘say nothing, you change nothing’, silence is a form of complicity

Aline Santos, Chief Brand Officer and Chief Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Officer

In a bid to help people take positive action against stereotypes, the Unstereotype Alliance worked with behavioural scientists to create the Unstereotype 101 Guide, launched as part of the campaign.

The guide is full of practical tips and conversation starters to help people safely challenge stereotypical behaviour and confidently go from a bystander to an upstander.

“It may be a tough thing for people to hear, but if you ‘say nothing, you change nothing’, silence is a form of complicity”, says Aline Santos, Chief Brand Officer and Chief Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Unilever, and Deputy Vice Chair of the Unstereotype Alliance.

“It’s why we felt it was so important for Unilever to co-pilot this campaign – to show that we all have the power to challenge stereotypes,” Aline adds.

As people’s personal safety is key, the Unstereotype 101 Guide asks us to consider a three-step approach – STOP, SEE and SUGGEST. Here are some key, actionable takeaways and tips.

How to effectively combat stereotypes in a measured, controlled way

  1. STOP

    When someone uses a stereotype, pause and take a few deep breaths, and make an active choice to challenge the stereotype.

  2. SEE

    • Don’t challenge the stereotype user.
    • Make sure you feel psychologically safe before you do anything.
    • If the situation happens online, the same advice applies. See if you can change the subject and make the stereotyped person feel welcome and included.

    Focus on what’s been said. Speak from your heart and from what you observe. Look to challenge the stereotype and not the person. Consider some of these examples of how to safely challenge:

    • “I’m wondering how others might feel when they hear you say that.”
    • “Here’s another way you could say that.”
    • “If I were in that situation, I think I would feel [describe what you feel].”
Aline Santos on stage with background stat that 73% of people encounter stereotyping

Together our voices can make a difference

“By sharing practical tools and encouraging conversation around this topic, we can give people the confidence to move from being a bystander to becoming an upstander,” Aline explains.

“If you speak up, then your friend may speak up. And one by one, the people around you may have the confidence to speak up,” she adds.

“Together, our voices can make a monumental difference in breaking down and eradicating stereotypes and creating a more equal world,” Aline adds, “one person, one situation and one word at a time.”

You can download the Unstereotype 101 Guide and find out more about the campaign here. Show your support on social media using the hashtag #SayNothingChangeNothing.

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