Commentary

Typical American Household?

To most people, the image of an “all-American family” consists of a heterosexual white man, woman and children,” writes Doug Zanger.

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According to a study by HP, reported in AdWeek by Doug Zanger, Senior Editor, 74% of 2,000 people, surveyed in an HP-commissioned study, believed that the typical household in this country fits the generational and societal “white picket fence” stereotype. However, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, only one in four American families matches that description

In a compelling social experiment and film, HP brought together 13 Chicago families of different races, ethnicities, ages, genders and sexual orientations. From there, a smaller group was brought in and asked to choose individuals to put together what they believed constituted an “all-American family.” The ‘families’ that were created followed a predictable script: same race, different gender, heterosexual.

None of the people choosing the families got it right. The reveal of the actual families was a stunning, emotional revelation and lesson learned about bias. One participant said that it changed “my perspective on a traditional American family. What surprised me was the man who I picked…I [thought] this guy looks most like how the stereotypical father might look.”

“The social experiment helped spotlight the beauty and range of American families…” sayd Carlos Ricardo, head of print marketing, Americas, for HP… “this made us think about the family photo and how the family itself has evolved…”

“When marketing and communications are most powerful, it holds up a mirror to our lives and reflects who we are and what is most important,” added Karen Kahn, HP’s chief communications officer. “And as marketers for a purpose-driven brand, we tackle the subjects that are meaningful to our most important audiences, employees, customers and partners.”

80% of respondents, says the report, agree that defining an “all-American family” is difficult due to the country’s diversity. Additionally, 68% of LGBTQ people categorize their families as all-American versus 58% who believe others would describe them in the same way. One of the more telling stats indicated that one in three Americans would be nervous bringing home a partner of a different race, and 50% say their family prefers that they date or marry someone of the same race or religion. 

Lesley Slaton-Brown, chief diversity officer at HP, says “The Reinvent Mindsets study findings reinforce that to connect with everyone, everywhere, we must strip away bias and stereotypes and celebrate our differences… these findings show that regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation or country of origin, perceptions of ‘family’ are not in line with today’s reality.”

The complete article may be found here.

 

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