Olay fights coded bias in beauty industry via #DecodetheBias campaign

The #DecodetheBias campaign highlights how data, computer code and artificial intelligence reinforce exclusionary beauty standards by excluding women of color, the company said.
Gisselle Gaitan
Online Editor

Olay is looking to create a more inclusive definition of beauty online by sparking an interest in STEM careers.

To do just that, the beauty brand is launching its new #DecodetheBias campaign, which aims to raise awareness about coded bias in the beauty industry by highlighting one major problem — how data, computer code and AI reinforce exclusionary beauty standards and exclude women of color, the company said.


As a way to further push this message to the forefront, Olay partnered with Joy Buolamwini, founder of Algorithmic Justice League, who highlighted the existence of coded biases in artificial intelligence in the Netflix Documentary “Coded Bias.”

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Buolamwini will be featured in television spots and print campaigns as part of this initiative.

“This campaign tackles two issues—coded bias as it manifests in the exclusionary representation in beauty imagery and the need to create more equitable opportunities for young girls of color, especially in the fields of STEM,” Joy Buolamwini, founder of the Algorithmic Justice League said. “I remember being a little girl and being teased for my dark skin and being told I was not the standard of beauty, so to have the opportunity to be a face that young girls can relate to is incredible. And I am proud to work with a brand like Olay that is taking real action to empower the next generation of girls.”

In order to make a difference, Olay has partnered with Black Girl Code, a nonprofit organization that aims to change the face of technology. Through this partnership, the brand will send 1,000 girls to code camp as a way to inspired them to pursue careers within STEM, the company said.

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“Olay remains committed to equality & inclusion—and champions a more diverse and inclusive standard of beauty in which there is not one, but many, representations of what is ‘beautiful’. This campaign, in partnership with Joy Buolamwini of the Algorithmic Justice League, highlights one example of how a lack of diversity in STEM and computer science fields can reinforce the norms. By diversifying who codes, we are creating a new future that is more digitally representative of all,” Stephanie Headley, vice president of Olay at P&G said. “We are excited to work with Black Girls CODE to provide that spark and encouragement to enter the field. This is one step to bringing greater equity and inclusion to our online spaces that will also get us closer to achieving Olay’s goal to triple the number of women of color in STEM fields by 2030.”

Lastly, Olay shared that it audited their own skin advisor web-based tool by engaging AJL audit partner ORCAA to assess the tool and identify issues of bias and recommending steps for remediation.

Through this process, the brand looks to set an example for not just the beauty industry, but all industries, to look at the algorithms behind their own applications, the company said.

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