Originally published: June 6, 2016
A number of years ago I was working for a technology company serving the Hospitality industry. I was preparing a presentation and planned to include images of women travelers and hotel guests - something that mirrored my direct experience as I was traveling about fifty percent of the time and spent at least 10 nights a month in hotel rooms. Much to my dismay, the images I found were not of real world business women. Just imagine doing a search on “business woman + hotel” and finding only pictures of women lounging in sexy nighties on the bed, or in a Spa robe, or what appeared to be a young girl “playing” business woman. In essence, I was not able to even represent my own reality, let alone portray the future I wanted to see with more professional business women.
In 2014 Getty Images, in collaboration with Lean In, launched the Lean In Collection. Finally, I could find stock images of professional women than represented my reality. Let me clarify that reality; my primary care physician is a woman, my dentist is a woman, my accountant is a woman, my ophthalmologist is a woman... but wait! Those women I just mentioned are also of varying ethnicities. I recognize that this is still a unique situation - but it’s one that I’m blessed to live with, and one that I hope will be the future our children come to know as “normal.”
I’m a firm believer that we each have the power to take steps - within our possibilities - that can and will add up to big changes. One of my favorite quotes is from Japanese poet Ryunosuke Satoro: “Individually we are one drop. Together we are an ocean.” Promoting women in leadership is important to me, because I believe that when more women are making decisions for the collective population, women in all roles will be better represented for equality and justice. Frequently, however, we are not sure what those small steps are, how we can take them, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking of the big actions and decisions that are beyond our means. How can we “be” the diversity we seek?