Breaking the bias with conscious media investment on International Women’s Day

3 min readMar 8, 2022


IWD #BreakTheBias Selfie Card

This year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) theme is #BreakTheBias. At the Conscious Advertising Network (CAN), breaking the bias resonates loudly with our belief that the content brands and advertisers create must be as diverse as the society they serve. Inclusion needs to underpin every single touchpoint of creative work — including where and how it appears — to talk to all audiences. The IWD team explains the #BreakTheBias theme:

Imagine a gender equal world.

A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.

A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Together we can forge women’s equality.

Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

With that in mind, here are some perspectives on what #BreakTheBias means for CAN, our members and our industry, with some advice and guidance.

Work with diverse teams

We have seen too many adverts in recent years that make assumptions about women’s roles at home or in the workplace. In advertising, where creativity, innovation and the ability to understand how consumers will interact with products and services are key, having a diverse and inclusive team working on ideas helps to safeguard against creating offensive or out-of-date content, and brings important and fresh perspectives. Make sure teams working on your ads are diverse and inclusive, all the way from creative to media placement.

Review your blocklists

Many widely used ‘brand safety’ settings can have the unintended consequence of excluding minority audiences, and minority titles. For example, as much as 75% of brand safe LGBTQIA+ related content is deemed ‘unsafe’ by common keyword blockers, meaning publishers are not incentivised to publish such content. Nowadays, companies that use ‘safe’ lists of websites should go the extra mile and ensure a range of diverse voices are included. There are huge opportunities to go far beyond ‘not just excluding minority audiences’ in terms of actively including relevant media titles in campaigns and partnering with them to better understand your audience and shape content, rather than making assumptions rooted in unconscious bias.

Ask agencies and partners about their D&I commitments

As mentioned above, making sure your work is representative means working with diverse groups of people from beginning to end. Some questions to ask include:

  • What is the agency’s vision and mission for D&I and how does it show up as part of their agency ethos?
  • What is representation like at board/C-suite/throughout the business?
  • What is the agency’s gender pay gap? And any other pay gap, including disability and ethnicity?
  • Are they accredited with the Creative + Media Equality Standard from Creative Equals?
  • What are the agency’s supply chain commitments? Will the production chain be diverse and inclusive (are they signed up to FreeTheWork)? How will the work be cast?

For more information about how you can help to break the bias in your advertising and media placement, see our diversity and inclusion manifesto.

Happy International Women’s Day, from all of us at CAN.




The Conscious Advertising Network is a voluntary coalition of over 70 organisations on a mission to stop advertising abuse.