Last week, we covered the dearth of women in boardrooms and the uphill battle to reach gender parity. It’s serendipitous, then, that Google announced today a new set of emojis it collaborated on with the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee.
The new emoji include 11 professional icons in both male and female options and a variety of skin tones, for a total of 100 new emoji. Google also announced that Unicode would be adding male and female versions to 33 existing emoji.
Why is this so important? It’s simple, really: Representation matters. More diverse emoji may not be the key to solving gender and ethnic diversity problems in companies across America, but they are an important step toward a more inclusive culture. More than 90 percent of the world’s online population uses emoji, according to Google’s announcement, and it’s important that people have access to emoji that reflect their lives.
Something as small as an emoji sends a subtle message about our world and our beliefs. When the only police officer emoji available is a white man, the subtext is that white men make for the ideal police officers. Now that Google and Unicode have added more options to the mix, the subtext is transformed: Regardless of gender or ethnicity, all people can be what they want to be.
It’s a beautiful and powerful message, even if it comes in the unassuming guise of emoji.