Why Diversity and Representation Matter in Business and Media

photo credit: Sidney Copeland 

photo credit: Sidney Copeland 

Gigi Gorgeous looked into the Create & Cultivate crowd this past Saturday in Atlanta and said excitedly, "There is so much diversity under this tent!" The audience cheered, acknowledging the importance of representation at the conference.

The six women on stage, Gigi, Jodie Patterson, Nicolette Mason, Daniela Ramirez, Maya Penn, and Mattie James were gathered to discuss the importance of diversity and representation in business and media. Nicolette put it simply, "People deserve to see themselves in the media."

Here are some of the other important takeaways. 

ON NOT PUTTING OURSELVES IN BOXES

Jodie Paterson, co-founder of (recently sold) DooBop and mother of a trans son, Penelope, told the crowd, “We have to be able to choose all of the things that we are, not just one. We have to let our whole selves out." 

"I never thought working for a fashion magazine was ever in the realm of possibility for me," said blogger and writer Nicolette Mason. "I had the education and the background, but there was no one who looked like me. No one I could look to as an example," she shared. "When Vogue Italia reached out to me and asked if I would be a contributor and a year from that point Marie Claire asked me to come in as a columnist and I penned a column for five years-- it was so amazing and surreal to know that my voice did have the potential and ability to be part of the mainstream." 

ON HOW TO OVERCOME STEREOTYPES

Maddie James, moderator and the blogger behind Mattieologie kept it simple, but succinct “Stories kill stereotypes,” she said. The more we share, the more the outliers become part of the cultural narrative. 

This was echoed by Jodie who said, "I see diversity as a domino effect. Diversity is some of us taking the first steps and putting ourselves out there and then asking and demanding it from all. If it's stunted in one area, it's stunted in all areas. People see and feel their way through change, not just statistics. It’s our job to tell stories. It’s also the media’s job to let the story happen."

"It’s our job to tell stories. It’s also the media’s job to let the story happen."

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Gigi agreed. "Being a transgender woman I know the hardships that the people in my community go through," she shared. "I think it's important to get my story out there for the world to see. We saw this with Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox-- they're huge media icons but they made transgender a household topic and that's really powerful. It changes people's perspective." 

"When you start sharing stories," said Jodie, "people are able to see and feel their way through change, rather than statistically analyze change. 

ON THE MEDIA'S ROLE IN RESHAPING THE NARRATIVE 

Maya Penn, CEO of Maya's Ideas, and the youngest (16) on the stage told the crowd, “I think the media needs to start stepping up. They need to say we need more diversity.” 

Nicolette added, "It's the job of content creators and media creators to reflect our real world." 

Maya said no one should feel like an odd one out. "We need diverse voices to show that representation matters. In non-traditional fields like STEM and science."

“I think the media needs to start stepping up. They need to say we need more diversity.” 

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"My third child is trans and we did a video with Cosmo and it received 9 millions views," said Jodie. "It's the media's job to allow the story to unfold. I read this quote that everything is copy, meaning if you slip and fall on a banana, people laugh at you. If you slip and fall on a banana, and then you tell people, you own the laughter because that's your story." 

"There have been baby steps along the way," explained Nicolette, "but there is so much more room to include diverse voices."  

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