Esther van Luit (Junior Manager Cyber Risk Services) and entrepreneur Sascha Fogel got together to make a change. They organised a photo shoot at The Edge to create a stock photo portfolio showing women of all colours and sizes in the lead. This is the story of their collaboration.
"Scrolling down my LinkedIn timeline a post liked by one of my connections drew my attention. The post reflected on the lack of women from minority backgrounds being in the lead in stock photos. What stood out for me about this post by Sascha is that instead of complaining, she decided to act and make a change. 'What impact will you make?' is not a hollow phrase at Deloitte. It is something we live by and appreciate in others. So when Sascha asked help to find a photo shoot location, I simply had to step in.
At Deloitte, we foster diversity and provide a welcoming work environment to all. In the cybersecurity industry, we have very few women. In our cybersecurity team, we have really embraced the challenge of building a diverse team. When I saw this LinkedIn post, I felt this initiative was something we should contribute to. Our management supported me with advice, time and resources and offered our Amsterdam office, The Edge, as location. As far as organizing the day itself, they gave me free rein and full responsibility to work it out. I got several male and female colleagues involved in planning the day and modelling. We arranged a nice lunch and I knew I could count on Sascha for the rest of the magic!"
"A while ago I was redesigning my website for my coaching business. As I specialize in coaching ambitious women, I was looking for stock images that depicted women leading in business situations. I realised that no matter how hard I searched on whatever stock platform I missed seeing a significant part of my peers, colleagues, friends and family members represented.
I was seeing predominantly white and skinny women in the photos. If there were women of colour they featured in the images only as junior employees. This made me cringe. Women in all forms, shapes and colours are capable, powerful, brilliant and intelligent. The message we are sending now to younger generations is that you need to be white and skinny to make it in business.
I wanted to change that and show women of all colours, sizes, race and ages in power positions in stock images. So I reached out to my network and asked my friends if they would participate as models or behind-the-scene advisors. I found a great photographer who embraces female empowerment, Melody Rae, to shoot the photos.
On LinkedIn, I asked my network for a great location to shoot the pictures and this is where Esther van Luit from Deloitte reacted. Many women and men reached out offering their support. Esther booked us a whole Saturday at The Edge to take a variety of business stock photos with women in the lead. A stylist and make-up crew helped our 20 models achieve a professional look."
A month ago we released the first set of pictures on Social Media and got a great reception. Also within Deloitte, my colleagues have reacted with enormous enthusiasm about this initiative. See the stock photos for yourself at https://creativemarket.com/VROUWnow
We did it! Rather than just getting images for Sascha’s website, we became part of something bigger and called our movement VROUWnow. VROUWnow stands for ‘Visual Representation of United Women Now” and together we create a new narrative about women in business. We are currently setting up an NGO working towards our mission to create diversity through stock imagery, education and representation by empowering women to be their authentic selves, to lead with confidence and courage, and become role models for the next generation of women leaders.
Esther Schagen - van Luit
Esther is a Specialist Master in Security Architecture at Deloitte Netherlands’ Cyber Risk Services team. Her ambition is to be a Leading Lady In Cyber, who is the best in her craft (security architecture) and makes societal impact as a role model through making girls & women feel they (could) belong in world of cybersecurity. She has a broad interest in technologies, with a focus on cloud security and artificial intelligence for cybersecurity. For her work around getting more ladies into Cyber Esther has been awarded prices and nominations such as the Cybersecurity Award, Techionista Award, VIVA400, Change in Business Award. She is also a Director on the Board of Trustees of the The SABSA Institute and a One Young World Ambassador. Esther is an avid public speaker so you can meet her at many conferences and events.