Stop Asian Hate: How To Avoid Racial Stereotypes in Marketing

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With May being Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we wanted to take a moment to stand in solidarity with our Asian community members and host a webinar discussion on how to avoid racial stereotypes in marketing. Marketing has always been a powerful storytelling vehicle and, as those storytellers, we need to recognize our roles in helping shape the perception of Asian Americans throughout the retail industry.

In this webinar, “Stop Asian Hate: How to Avoid Racial Stereotypes in Marketing,” Gordon Ho (Principal, CMO & President at Xpertainment and Board Member at Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE)), Ekta Chopra​ (Chief Digital Officer at e.l.f. Beauty) and Qun Wei (Head of Growth Data & Analytics at Lemonade) discuss the ways marketing can be used to help dispel stereotypes, empower communities and provide insight on what we can do to be better allies.

Read the recap below or watch the full session here.

How Marketing Influences Stereotypes

Marketing can build awareness and build resources, shining light on important stories and issues—it is at the center of amplifying what we can do as a community to stop hate.

Organizations need to think about not what they can do but what they are willing to do. At e.l.f. Beauty, they work to tackle issues inside out. They build internal awareness through bringing in experts for master classes on diversity. They also build external awareness through community outreach, like providing them resources (ways to educate and take action)  to show that they do actually care about how these issues impact their customers.

In order to create better representation and move away from harmful stereotypes, marketers must collaborate and support each other  by sharing best practices and content that educates people. Most importantly, we need to create an environment where people feel comfortable discussing these issues rather than staying silent.

Education + Amplifying Diverse Voices

Stopping hate and harmful stereotypes means educating people on why the stereotypes are harmful and amplifying diverse voices. At CAPE, they work to find diverse writers and leaders who can create content that represents cultures more accurately. As a marketer, you can work to create more diverse teams (writers, content creators, leaders, etc.) or suggest incorporating strategies that better represent the entire spectrum of different cultures. When diversifying teams, remember that just adding one minority team member does not and cannot represent all people of that culture. Diversity means thorough, nuanced representation, not just one hire.

Audience Targeting in Performance Marketing + Unconscious Bias

Finding the right audience is a large part of what marketers do, and over time, with sophisticated technologies, it’s easier to target people based on specific characteristics (such as race or sex). However, targeting people means there’s an ability to exclude people as well, whether or not it’s intentional.

Stay proactive and check if algorithms are discriminating in any way—bias can be measured and tracked more easily with technology, and it’s easier to correct, too. Even if bias is not the intended outcome, marketers have to be conscious of the results.

Additionally, take time to question the models built into tools or platforms you use (such as personalized predictive models). For example, you can investigate: What are those models? What is the framework that they are using? Who might they be excluding? Understanding these questions will help you not take these algorithms at face value and work to create a more inclusive tool.

Building An Anti-Racist Company Culture

In order to move forward, companies need to:

  1. Take stances and express their support for marginalized communities. One way is to take a public stance and make a statement or announcement condemning hate/racism.
  2. Create forums where people can talk in an environment where they feel comfortable sharing their feelings.
  3. Think long-term—rather than only maximizing ROI, address systematic biases that have been created along the way.

Steps We Can All Take To Be Allies

  • Education: seek to understand what the problem is and learn about the issue (and its history) rather than just making a judgement.
  • Action: ask your organization to take action; speak up and encourage others to take action. Complacency is complicity.
  • Talk: don’t be afraid to have difficult conversations. We can only move forward if we discuss with others and learn together.
  • Support: reach out to colleagues and be there to listen to them.

Everybody can make a little bit of difference, and together we can make a big difference. Watch the full session on our Youtube Channel and check out these resources for more information.