Want some discrimination with that Ikea bookcase?

Really? Ikea, of all places?
Ikea, the people who do good work globally let this happen?

One of the most progressive companies, at least when it comes to relationships and families, has to issue an apology for photoshopping women out of the Saudi version of its catalog.

As this AP story notes:

Women appear only infrequently in Saudi-run advertising, mostly on Saudi-owned TV channels that show women in long dresses, scarves covering their hair and long sleeves. In imported magazines, censors black out many parts of a woman's body including arms, legs and chest.

This is the reality of doing business in certain parts of the world that aren't on the same page when it comes to, well, gender equality at least, and human rights at most.

For instance, Starbucks removed the mermaid from its logo to do business there. Yeah that's right. They removed a mermaid.

This mess caused the gender-equality championing to ask the big question: WTF Ikea? Their Swedish Equality Minister, (seriously?)
Nyamko Sabuni noted that Ikea is a private company that makes its own decisions, but added that it also projects an image of Sweden around the world.

Swedish navel gazing aside, Ikea apologized after the fact, releasing a statement that in part read:

"We are now reviewing our routines to safeguard a correct content presentation from a values point-of-view in the different versions of the IKEA Catalogue worldwide."

In other words, Ikea is expressing regret after the fact so they can keep the cash coming in from their three Saudi stores.

Might I suggest Ikea create a new line of bookcases. The "Kowtow," collection. Add some umlauts to it. Or one of those cute ø thingies. Everyone will love it!

Comments (5)

  • chlitto's picture
    chlitto (not verified)

    since when is accounting for cultural differences discrimination?
    when they'll start selling to martians should they have humans in the catalog? all white people in nigeria ads, all black in china?

    about a year ago there was the same thing with microsoft erasing a black man from an ad in poland... thanks to hitler and stalin there are no black people here (and any other immigrants for that matter), so i have no idea what sane company would put a black man on a expensive country wide ad i a country where there are almost no black people

    Oct 03, 2012
  • Anonymous12345's picture
    Anonymous12345 (not verified)

    Here's the difference: there ARE women in Saudi Arabia! Just because an entire culture is discriminatory doesn't make it right.

    Oct 03, 2012
  • chlitto's picture
    chlitto (not verified)

    btw nice comment captcha... build for americans - what a discrimination! it took me 6 times to post a comment

    Oct 03, 2012
  • kidsleepy's picture
    kidsleepy

    If you'd care to read up on the culture you can start here.

    If you can't be bothered, here's a sentence that summs it up:

    "Under this discriminatory system, girls and women of all ages are forbidden from traveling, studying, or working without permission from their male guardians."

    Oct 04, 2012

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about the author

kidsleepy 17 year copywriter, now CD, who has worked in many cities including Pittsburgh, New York, Atlanta, Montreal and currently Los Angeles. I snark because I care. I ain't complainin' I'm just tellin' it like it is.