The company behind Dove, Persil and Magnum has made the pledge after it commissioning research showing 40 per cent of women do not identify with other women they see in adverts.
“Stereotyping in advertising is a prevalent issue for all genders. However, our research shows that the negative effects are most keenly felt when it comes to representations of females,” said Aline Santos, executive vice president of global marketing at Unilever.
“Advertising can be a powerful force in leading positive cultural change. We believe it is our responsibility, alongside the industry, to be at the forefront of this change by positively portraying people as they truly are today – progressive ads will lead us to a progressive future for all.”
Unilever said it had conducted several in-depth studies into the subject over the last two years “to better understand how female identity has evolved and how brands can be more relevant and better connected”.
The company has called for other advertisers to follow suit.
Keith Weed, global chief marketing officer, said: “The time is right for us as an industry to challenge and change how we portray gender in our advertising.”
Earlier this month, new London mayor Sadiq Khan announced plans to ban adverts featuring unrealistic, or unhealthy, body shapes on TfL in tube and bus stations.
Here is an old Dove advert from the 1950s: