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Beauty brand BECO’s #StealOurStaff campaign draws attention to the disproportionate rate of unemployment among Britons with disabilities. By encouraging other companies to employ their staff, the campaign addresses the demand for better representation of the disabled in the workforce and throughout the media. We explore the insights behind the use of marketing strategies to challenge stereotypes and tackle stigma towards people with disabilities.

At beauty brand BECO, they recognise the need for non-discriminatory employment processes, and particularly when it comes to employing the disabled — 80% of the staff who manufacture their products have a disability. Their new campaign, however, is directed at other employers, encouraging them to poach members of their workforce. While this may not be the most conventional of employment techniques, it’s central to the brand’s socially enterprising initiative #StealOurStaff, which intends to raise awareness of unemployment among workers with disabilities. Every bar or bottle of the brand’s vegan soap is accompanied by a picture of one of BECO’s many staff members with disabilities, as well as a playful description of the individual and their skills. For example, Sareet, who has been working with BECO since 2008, is on a label that reads ‘I can cut soap to the accurate length every time, just by touch.’

When describing the initiative, head of sustainable growth Camilla Marcus-Dew explained, ‘Imagine if helping people have more employment opportunities was as easy as washing your hands. That’s why we started BECO. We’re determined to make things that easy because all of our products create real jobs for real people in the UK who are visually impaired, disabled or disadvantaged.’ By flagging the importance of employment techniques that recognise workability over disability, BECO aims to ‘give everyone that wants to work the possibility to work, it’s as simple as that.’  

BECO campaign champions workers with disabilities BECO campaign champions workers with disabilities
Beco_UK | Facebook (2019) ©

With disabled people in the UK more than twice as likely to be unemployed as the able-bodied, there’s a need for initiatives that tackle stigma and encourage employers not to overlook candidates with disabilities. This comes at a time when two-thirds of people with disabilities believe society tries to ‘sweep them under the rug’; the fact that 15% of people around the world have a disability, but only 2% of stock images actually represent their lives, certainly contributes to this impression, revealing a demand for strategies that tackle this under-representation.

BECO is not the only brand tackling stigma and smashing stereotypes of the disabled. The Maltesers Look on the Light Side campaign similarly sought to address the issue of misrepresentation by showing real people with disabilities sharing funny or embarrassing stories. By emphasising the ordinary aspects of life as a person with disabilities, rather than pitying or excessively venerating them, the campaign offered a more accurate, human portrayal of disability. Rebecca Swift, Director of Visual Insights at Getty Images, notes how stock photo images in the disabled world are often very binary. She states, “they’re either depicted as superhuman or super pathetic. There doesn’t seem to be that broad range that you get with able-bodied people." By departing from this problematic notion of heroic or helpless, brands can play an important role in changing social perceptions of the disabled.

Lottie Hanwell is a junior behavioural analyst. She loves travelling, reading novels, cuddling dogs and hosting dinner parties. A graduate of Engish Literature and Spanish, she’s adventured through South and Central America where she developed a taste for Argentine Malbec and dodgy Reggaeton. Now settled back in London, she hopes to translate her fondness of people-watching to her role at Canvas8.


03 Oct 19
2 min read

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