FEATURE8 August 2019

Shattering stereotypes

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Inclusion and diversity have risen up the business agenda. But tackling stereotyped thinking about customers is not only ethical, it also leads to better business and is a creative force in product and service design, writes Tim Phillips in the latest Impact report.

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Jessica Anderson, a nurse in the acute admissions unit of the Royal London Hospital, completed the 2019 London Marathon in her uniform in three hours, eight minutes and 22 seconds, raising £2, 399.72 for charity in the process. Guinness World Records (GWR) denied her the record for the fastest woman running the distance in a nurse’s uniform, however. The reason? Its rules demanded a ‘white or blue dress, pinafore apron and white cap’. 

A week later, having taken a kicking on social media, GWR changed its mind, saying its guidelines were ‘outdated, incorrect and reflected a stereotype we do not in any way wish to perpetuate’. GWR’s oversight may be because few people in its daily operations are focused on whether its rules perpetuate stereotypes – though one would assume that has now changed. But even large, research-driven organisations fall flat on their faces.

One of the most infamous examples came on International Women’s Day in 2012, when Bic launched an ...