I am proud to say “Madam Vice President” to the first Southeast Asian American, first African American, and first female Vice President in US history. I am thrilled that millions of girls are seeing endless possibilities and not endless limitations for themselves and those who look like them, knowing that not only can they play any role they want and work hard on, but that they can start movements and create possibilities when none exist.
Today’s inauguration ceremony not only marks the beginning of a new presidency, but also a new era for the BIPOC community – and especially for women of color. Kamala Harris as Vice President is colossal for women of skin color who must overcome both racism and sexism to gain access to opportunity, and then seize those opportunities to be successful.
Sad facts about representation
I am an immigrant and a marketer by profession. It’s not often that I run into another marketing director who looks like me. The sad fact remains that not many Southeast Asian women hold executive positions in marketing. It is even more sad that the few women who do this are usually not highlighted for their work. I rarely see people looking like me in advertising, be it beauty, healthcare, or banking – even though I consume the same products and services as everyone else. While it’s great to see more and more women (and men) of color being appointed to leadership positions, we still have a long way to go.
In part, a lack of BIPOC in leadership is due to existing systems that foster a world where we don’t have role models who look like us in positive positions of authority – whether they’re CEOs, CMOs, political leaders, policymakers, or superheroes acts. The lack of these role models can affect self-esteem. And it lowers resilience to racism and continues these systems.
What this initiation means
Today’s inauguration is a major blow to this centuries-old system and indicates a more inclusive world.
I am optimistic that the election of Kamala Harris will strengthen the representation of the BIPOC communities across the board. Until we, as marketers, have a fair representation, we undertake to do our part to strengthen the voices of people of color by including, understanding and promoting these voices and what they stand for.
When we find that these voices are missing in the rooms we are in, we want to create opportunities for these voices. It’s not just about getting involved. It’s also about being heard. It is long past asking the questions: “What perspectives are we missing here today? How do we make sure we take them into account in order to make our work better and more inclusive? “
We may not have any satisfactory answers yet. At this moment let’s all be proud.