(Originally published in Wells Fargo Stories)
It’s not uncommon these days to have experienced bullying firsthand or seen its effects on a loved one. In fact, about 40 percent of people believe they have been bullied because of their identity labels, whether they are race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability, according to a study by the American Journal of Public Health. Through its Love Has No Labels campaign, the Ad Council is working to promote acceptance and inclusion for all.
“If we all work to build empathy and understanding for others, we can each contribute to a more accepting world and be part of the solution,” said Jennifer Walters, campaign director for the Ad Council, a nonprofit with a mission to drive social impact through the power of communication. Love Has No Labels is a national public service campaign created by the Ad Council in March 2015. Wells Fargo is a corporate sponsor of the campaign for the second year, donating $400,000 since 2016 and committing an additional $100,000 to further the Ad Council’s bullying prevention efforts in 2018. The Love Has No Labels campaign promotes acceptance and inclusion — across race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, and ability — by encouraging people to recognize their own implicit biases, or when they unintentionally discriminate against others.
- Acceptance. Gaining exposure to relationships, cultures, and people who are different than you helps erode biases and build empathy, Walters said. It’s also important to have open conversations with the adults and children in your life about the topics of bullying and accepting others. “People that are open-minded are less likely to bully,” she added.
- Support. Walters also recommends being intentional about supporting and including others, which helps reinforce the idea that there is nothing wrong with people who are being bullied. “About 50 percent of the time, things get better when people make a point to include others that are bullied,” she said. “It’s so important because of the harm bullying can do when the victim internalizes cruel messages.”
- Respect. When bullies make hurtful statements, others can help put a stop to it and make it clear bullying is not acceptable by saying things like, “We don’t do that here,” or “We’re better than this,” Walters said. Statements like this normalize acceptance and create an environment of respect for others.
- Love. Many people might think allies need to be loud and make grand gestures when they stand up for others, but not everyone is extroverted or wants to risk becoming targets themselves, Walters said. “By quietly supporting someone and telling them you support them — or talking to someone who is mistreating another — you can be just as effective as an ally,” she added.
- Unite. Walters recommends trusting people to come up with their own solutions and giving them credit. Instead of talking down to people about bullying and related issues, create an open dialogue, Walters said. “Bullying happens everywhere,” she added. “Getting people to come together and talk about the effects and what they might do in those situations makes people more empathetic and can help prevent bullying.”
The Ad Council hopes that through the Love Has No Labels campaign, and by following these tips, more people will recognize that diversity and inclusion is important, and that there are things they can do to fight bias and prejudice, Walters said.Jamie Moldafsky, chief marketing officer for Wells Fargo and member of the Ad Council’s board of directors, agreed. “We are proud to be a sponsor of this empowering campaign again,” she said. “Love Has No Labels’ core message of treating everyone with respect and fairness aligns with our vision and values and our deep commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
For the past 17 years, DiversityInc magazine has ranked Wells Fargo among the top-rated companies for diversity and inclusion, and in May 2017, the company ranked No. 9. In August 2017, Wells Fargo was named one of the Disability Equality Index (DEI) Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion, earning a score of 100 percent on the national list.
Since 1987, when Wells Fargo added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy, the company has provided more than $50 million in support to LGBT organizations like GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network). GLSEN, which was founded by a group of teachers, has a mission of ensuring that all students are valued and respected, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Among its efforts, the group conducts research to inform schools about issues that affect students, provides resources like Safe Space Kits to help adults support LGBTQ students and prevent bullying, and supports student-led initiatives.
“We believe people can help prevent bullying with respect, acceptance, support, love, and unity, and we look forward to continuing our work with the Ad Council to promote acceptance and inclusion,” Moldafsky said.