While diversity is starting to be more common in the creative industry, there is still a lot of work to do. Just do a quick Google search of the top creative agencies, studios, and firms and look at the photos of the teams. Even easier, go look at the institutions that hand out prestigious awards and count how many of the recipients are a woman or non-caucasian OR better yet, a non-caucasian woman. I’ll never forget that one semester in college where I was the only non-caucasian face in a room of 19 students. I’ll also never forget my disbelief at the contrast between going to school and entering the creative work field. While there was barely one or two guys in my classes, when I started applying for my first job, I noticed most teams were 80% men (not surprisingly, mostly white too). I want to see more women and diverse faces in leadership roles.
When I came across Diversify Photo, I was like “yass!” Basically, photographers Brent Lewis and Andrea Wise recognized a longstanding problem in the photo industry: a lack of diverse voices.
Diversify is a verb. It is an action – an intentional movement to break with the narrow lens through which history and the mass media has seen and recorded the images of our time. Diversify was born out of a recognition that calling for more diversity in the photo industry is not enough. To diversify photo, we need to equip Art Buyers, Creative Directors, and Photo Directors with resources to discover photographers of color available for assignments and commissions.
Source: Diversify Photo
Why is diversity so vital? Because the creative industry takes a large part in creating the culture the rest of the world lives and breathes in. When the creative industry is an overwhelmingly homogenous voice, what does that mean for the culture we consume on a daily basis? Besides being BORING, it is a misrepresentation of America. America thrives because of the diversity. Despite the recent political drama and insanity, I strongly believe America is better and stronger because we are a melting pot of people from every kind of background imaginable.
Broadening perspectives on race, class and gender is a much-needed challenge to traditional approaches that reinforce “a monolithic point of view,” said Rhea Combs, curator of film and photography at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“When you have a very one-note perspective, then you’re pretty much determining what you think is beautiful, what you think is valuable and what you think is significant enough to record in history,” she said. “I think it’s really short-sighted and it limits our understanding of life and the world.”
I’m sick of seeing those cheesy educational and professional stock images of what diversity means. In 1991, AIGA wrote an article titled “Why is graphic design 93% white?” In 2017, FastCoDesign wrote an article titled, “Survey: Design Is 73% White” Yes, we are progressing in the right direction, but it also took 26 years for the homogenous voice to go down by 20%. Can we all just get real for a moment, acknowledge the problem, and start moving forward towards a better solution?
Here is a list of organizations focused on promoting diversity in the creative industry. If you have more to add to this list, please comment below! The more the better. I hope this list continues to grow until diversity is no longer a topic we need to talk about.
Organization of Black Designers
Diversity & Inclusion Task Force
Women Who Draw
The 3% Movement
Women Lead Initiative
People of Craft
Good for People of Color