- P&G's Pantene hair care brand launched S.H.E., which stands for Search. Human. Equalizer. and is a search tool designed to provide less biased results for queries across 150 search terms, according to a company press release.
- In searches across 105 job categories, women were underrepresented 57% of the time, according to Pew Research Center data cited in the press release. With this discrepancy in mind as well as some more troublesome biases evident in search results, the S.H.E. Chrome browser extension filters the results on the back end to elicit a more accurate portrayal of women. S.H.E. can be downloaded at shetransforms.us and users can submit additional search terms to expand its reach.
- The search tool, which is showcased in a YouTube video, is the first installment of Pantene's new "Power To Transform" campaign that, beginning in July, will recognize and celebrate women who positively change their lives and the world around them. Along with that, Pantene has formed a $1 million partnership with Wing to fund female entrepreneurs and a mentorship program for college-bound girls.
Pantene's S.H.E. search tool is a unique way to insert the brand into the movement to fight gender bias and promote women's equality. It is also the latest example of how parent company P&G is calling out the largest digital media platforms for falling short when it comes to insuring a safe, transparent and high-quality experience for consumers and brands, in this case by enabling the perpetuation of biases via the algorithm for delivering search results. Online search remains a very popular use case and Google has a 90% share of all searches.
As P&G noted in the release, a search of "greatest painters" through traditional engines produces few women's names. A test by Marketing Dive corroborated this with a Google search that resulted in 57 painters with only two women among them.
"Cultural stereotypes often distort women's achievements and potential, and this is no different in search," the P&G press release stated. "In short, society has actually taught search engine algorithms to become biased."
The Pantene campaign enters the purpose-driven marketing realm which resonates with younger women, a group the hair care maker is eager to forge a bond with. In a similar mode, P&G recently released two short documentaries made by women on Hulu. They are a result of the Queen Collective, a partnership among P&G, Tribeca Studios and actress-producer Queen Latifah, with whom P&G has had a long relationship. P&G has not only taken the equality and diversity message to its brand marketing but simultaneously been refining its business operations to reflect that commitment.
Other brands have been addressing women more supportively, too. In March, in honor of Women's History Month, United Airlines ran a contest for women artists in which they were asked to submit concepts for a mural for a Boeing 757. A year ago, Smirnoff introduced a Spotify API to promote female musicians and educate listeners about their own music habits. The effort resonated well and drove 630 million impressions.