On Tuesday, January 15, Editors Canada president Gael Spivak sent the following letter to the Canadian offices of eight stock photo agencies to encourage them to acquire and provide more diverse and respectful images.
January 15, 2019
Dear [name of stock photo agency]:
I am writing to you on behalf of Editors Canada—the national association that represents Canadian editors—about diversity in the stock images you offer.
One aspect of the editing profession is to see bias and root it out. Editors strive to acknowledge, welcome, and respect the differences of Canadians. Part of an editor’s role in a print or digital publication project is selecting or reviewing photographs for diversity of age, sex, gender, race, religious/faith background, ability, and more.
Editors often struggle to find images we need because the people represented are mainly white, able-bodied and in traditional gender roles.
Editors Canada would like to draw your attention to this issue and ask you to acquire and provide a broader range of images. With access to greater diversity in images, Canadian publications and online products will better reflect today’s inclusive society, which strives to welcome and value those with diverse identities and treat people equally.
As well as needing images depicting a diverse population, editors are aware of other areas of bias, such as age (the suggestion that everyone over 65 is in mental decline); height and weight (tall/slender people are more competent than short/plump ones); geography (there is nothing worthy of notice outside of Ontario); and religion (we are pious; they are superstitious). Avoiding these stereotypes is also important to editors.
We have seen that the lack of diverse and respectful images is a topic of discussion in national and international editing communities of practice. [Name of stock photo agency]’s ability to acquire and provide an expanded collection of these images will be noticed by its markets, including editors. In addition to helping to increase the range of available images, this approach will mean that editors will be more likely to recommend your company to their clients.
We hope that you will join us in our goal to reflect the diversity of our country in our work.