Getty Images on fixing photojournalism's gender imbalance

'The reality is that even a small amount of understanding and inclusion can go a long way.'

Every week, "Are We There Yet?" asks industry insiders across all job levels and titles to share personal stories about equality, diversity and inclusion in adland. 

We know we're not there yet, but we want to document the highs and lows as the industry slowly transforms for the better.

Kirstin Benson
Vice President of Global Entertainment
Getty Images

Tell us one thing that’s happened recently that leads you to believe there’s still a problem.

The progress that the collective corporate world has made in growing awareness and developing programs to address diversity and inclusion is nothing short of remarkable. 

If you’re part of a corporate ecosystem, you’d have to be living under a rock to not have been exposed to diversity and inclusion initiatives. In fact, D&I has become so buzzy that it’s turned into its own acronym that gets tossed around as frequently as other corporate slang like B2B, SG&A or SEO. 

But just because people know what the acronym stands for, doesn’t mean that they’ve fully unpacked what it means and, more importantly, how it impacts them personally. 

There’s a general attitude that "the D&I thing" applies only to individuals from mis-or-underrepresented groups. Gay? Check. Person of color? Check. Wheelchair user? Line right up… D&I applies to you! 

Recently, Getty Images called for senior leaders to volunteer with its D&I global advisory committee, which sparked (more than a few) memorable watercooler conversations with some colleagues -- most of whom I respect and admire -- and I realized just how far we have to go when I heard the following: "I get it, but don’t you think this whole D&I thing is a bit much?" And: "To be honest, D&I doesn’t really apply to our group." 

I think these hyper generalizations and miscategorizations of diversity and inclusion stem from a lack of understanding of what they actually mean and how intrinsic they are to not only the success of a business, but also to every person’s well-being -- regardless of their ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, or any other identifiers. 

On the most basic level, this misunderstanding can lead to a bad taste in people’s mouth when D&I turns into a forced chore. But the real risk is that without earnest buy in from the majority, D&I will never hit critical mass and we’ll forever be fighting an uphill battle. 

How about something that proves we’re making progress?

Here’s one: We’re finally starting to publicly acknowledge the gross gender imbalance in photojournalism.

While those in the field have long-observed the lack of women behind the camera, the public is gaining a similar awareness, thanks in part to thought-provoking and data-driven pieces, like Rachel Somerstein’s Washington Post article, "2018 was dubbed the year of the woman. You wouldn’t know it from the pictures."

As hard as it is to see the truth in print, pieces like the one by Somerstein force us to admit there’s a problem (step one) and help propel faster improvements, in no small part due to consumers’ increased awareness and their subsequent demands for change. 

One example of how our partners are supporting expedited change is the Toronto Film Festival. As part of its Share Her Journey initiative -- a five-year commitment to increasing opportunities for women behind and in front of the camera -- TIFF asked its media partners to increase the number of women on the press line. We responded in kind and were proud to increase the number of women and diverse individuals on our crew by 40 percent year over year. 

What else needs to be done to get there?

Our basic human instinct is to feel insecure or threatened by things or people who we don’t understand. But on the flip side, it’s never great to feel overlooked or misunderstood.

We need to constantly remind ourselves, our leaders and our teams to take the time to connect with each other, listen with an open mind, and -- most importantly -- actually hear viewpoints that are different from our own.

The reality is that even a small amount of understanding and inclusion can go a long way. The more we know about each other, the easier it is to see where people are coming from -- which makes us more effective and, ultimately, more satisfied and better humans, too.

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