What’s Right With This Picture?
By Lynn Branigan
It’s a famous image by now: the powerfully diverse, 2019 Freshman congress gathered in front of the nation’s capital. As we head into Black History Month and prepare for Women’s History Month in March, it is a good time to reflect on what is going right in our world from the standpoint of inclusion.
The new Congress represents a record for the most women – at least 124 in the House and Senate combined, up from 107 in the previous Congress—as well as new highs for the number of African-Americans and Hispanics serving in the House of Representatives (source: Brookings Institution). Nearly one-third of the 34 Democratic women who joined the House are people of color, including the first two Native American women and the first two Muslim women.
A Washington Post column written on January 31 by Fareed Zakaria carries this subhead: We have a bleak view of modern life. But the world is making real progress. The article points out that “the gender gap between wages for men and women has narrowed. Female membership in national legislatures of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member countries has almost doubled in the past 20 years.”
Close to home, our Inclusion and Diversity Accountability Consortium (IDAC, #inclusivebrands), completed the very first industry benchmark and is embarking on Year 2, leveraging data in the fight for greater inclusion across marketing, media and tech. The Consortium doubled in size from 11 inaugural members to 21 participants as we celebrate Black History Month.
Look around. Something is going right.
All of this might seem like slow and hard-fought progress, but it speaks to the power of what communities of like-minded people can accomplish. When it feels as though every step is uphill, and every battle is fierce, and every skeptic is challenging your goal, it’s important to take a moment, remember where you started and acknowledge the progress made.
And then get back to work. Because, as Frederick Douglass so wisely declared, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”