3 – Acknowledge Your “Why”
Your context is your cause—we exist in racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic cultures, structures, and systems. You and your organization may not be responsible for creating those structures, but deciding how you want to operate within them will have an impact on the people who work with, work for, or otherwise engage with your brand.
Simply put, you need to be clear about why you’re doing this work, why it matters to your organization, and use that “why” to inform how your DAM should change. For companies that have been focused on public-facing DEI work, maybe you’re bringing your internal processes up to snuff. For multinational media companies, maybe your staff and partners access your DAM across borders, languages, and cultures and you want your metadata to reflect people in accurate ways.
Maybe you want your DAM to reflect your company’s current values. You are applying DEI to your DAM for a reason. Know your why and let that guide you.
4 – Care for Your DAM Community
Everyone expects a baseline of safety when they open the DAM. They don’t expect to be met with harmful language or offensive images, especially without content warnings or editorial context. Providing a content warning or harmful language statement lets users know that you are aware of problematic assets or metadata in your collection, and that you are doing what you can to mitigate harm while preserving an accurate record of the past. Streaming service Disney+ now displays this message before certain older films:
“This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.”
You may not have content as extreme as in this example, but a simple warning like this lets DAM users know that you’re considering them and their safety. This example also works as an outward-facing statement, especially if the content could be published. Use a content warning for publishing, like “Requires content warning” or “Contains [sexist/ableist/racist/etc.] content.”
The Digital Public Library of America has an excellent statement on potentially harmful content they encourage others to modify for their own use. Cataloging Lab also has a list of statements on bias in archives description—you may not find DAM-specific guidance on these topics, but don’t be afraid to use these resources and adapt their inclusive language for your industry.
When we step back from the data and remember that we’re managing a tool for people, we can apply the care needed to support those people, their assets, and their processes.