Canon got it right on International Women's Day

Sunday, May 20, 2018 8:59:48 PM America/Los_Angeles

Canon got it right on International Women's Day

"For International Women's Day, Canon..." as I read the subject line of the email, I cringe at the possible endings to that sentence.

Not outside the realm of possibilities is something like, "Releases Commemorative Pink Camera Strap!" In 2018 I think we're better than that. Probably. I keep reading.

"...Lends Support to 'Women Photograph'" is how it ends, and I feel a real sense of relief. This was an organization I knew and had covered in the past. It aims to 'elevate the voices of female visual journalists,' offering an additional resource for editors as well as grants and workshops for female photographers. I read on.

"Canon will work with Women Photograph to aid their travel grant program which funds female and non-binary photographers to attend workshops, hostile environment trainings, festivals, and other developmental opportunities."

If you're a brand looking to grab a slice of the #MeToo pie, you could definitely do much worse than this. Case in point: McDonald's put on a master class this year in getting it wrong. The fast food giant announced that it would be turning its logo upside down to recognize International Women's Day... a "W" instead of an "M"... for women... get it? Critics spoke up quickly, pointing out that it felt like an empty gesture coming from a company that can afford to do much more.

The upside down arches were on my mind when I started reading that press release from Canon this morning, so it felt very reassuring to see the brand pledging real support behind an effort created by, and created for, women photographers. Sure, it's all marketing at the end of the day, and I truly hope Canon's support of Women Photograph doesn't begin and end with a one-time workshop. Issuing a press release is cheap. Following through, and staying committed in the long term isn't.

But if you're going to talk about supporting women on International Women's Day, please don't just give us an empowering logo and a T-shirt. Instead, put your money where your mouth is.

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