How Inmagine Group is bringing diversity and representation to its image library

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Individuals come in all shapes and sizes, and striving to represent them right is Stephanie Sitt the group CEO and co-founder of Inmagine Group. With photography libraries now becoming a go-to for marketers ahead of campaign launches, it has become paramount that image sites such as 123RF (under the Inmagine umbrella) ensure diversity in their representation of people.

In a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Sitt says that many of the projects within Inmagine Group are now led by women who are experienced and have a depth in understanding of how products are being carved.  “We always select our choice of words, tone and images carefully to reflect the respect we have for women. We practice an inclusive culture,” she said. “Part of our responsibility is also about working closely with over 100,000 contributors to ensure the same message is sent across to everyone as the majority of our clients are female too!” 

Inmagine Group, which started in 2000, the company has now evolved from a digital stock proto library to a creative ecosystem, always looking to expand its offerings to make design easy and accessible for all. Under Sitt’s guidance, PIXLR has grown in prominence as a Cloud-based Photo Editor offering a simplified design process with one-click AI features at an affordable price. Meanwhile, DESIGNS.AI is a powerful suite of AI Creative Tools that halves production time and costs for social media designs, videos and more by generating post-ready content in minutes. Last but not least, 123RF offers millions of creative content that empowers storytelling for seamless digital marketing transformation.

In light of International Women’s Day, we speak to Sitt about how she is ensuring women are represented right in her platform of images.

This article was done in collaboration with Inmagine Group.  

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Please share with us a little bit about yourself and how the company was started?

Sitt: Inmagine was founded in 2000, and evolved from a digital stock photo library to a complete creative ecosystem driven by creativity, technology innovation, and entrepreneurship. We were the first company in Asia to offer this service. We have been 100% bootstrapped from the very beginning and the journey ahead of us is exciting as we are building a seamless creative journey that helps businesses tell their story and cope with the demand of creative content.

We have continuously looked for ways to expand our offerings in line with our mission to make design easy and accessible for everyone. To simplify the creative process for all levels of users i.e. freelancers, marketers, influencers and business owners, we have launched the following SaaS products with the aim to make design smarter, faster and easier.

We are forging a future where design is within reach for everyone. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: How can image libraries play a role in ensuring women are presented in a positive light?

Sitt: If it's from our own production, it starts from the drawing board and then the art direction. Many of our projects are led by women who are experienced and they have a voice of how our product is being carved. The final artwork should be up to date and positive not just towards genders but also achieve racial equality. 

We always select our choice of words, tone and images carefully to reflect the respect we have for women. We practice an inclusive culture. We work on individual strengths and not putting a microscope on to define whether it is by a male or female. We need each other to complement each other.

Part of our responsibility is also about working closely with over 100,000 contributors to ensure the same message is sent across to everyone as the majority of our clients are female too! 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What has Inmagine Group done to ensure women are showcased in a positive light?

Sitt: Inmagine Group has been headed by a lady CEO for many years, hence the voice in steering the company towards positive gender equality is strengthened. Within the leadership team, we always try to strike a balance to have equal genders to represent different perspectives of things.

There are some positions within the company that are prioritised for female applicants as we believe that some work will be well represented by females. In some business dealings with foreign partnerships, we always make sure the female in our company who is related to the business subject matter is involved so that they have an equal opportunity to give their thoughts and suggestions, and to also learn and contribute.   

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What has Inmagine Group done to empower its female workforce?

Sitt: Our global demographic shows that 46% of our workforce is female.  A more surprising finding is that it balances out within all departments in the company.  Meaning almost all departments have a balance of male and female. Some departments are made up of more than 65% of females. In our tech Department, there has been an increasing number of females joining us in recent years, which used to be dominated by male. In January 2021, we appointed a female colleague as CTO of 123RF.

We make sure that we are giving equal attention and nominate females to assume greater responsibility and acknowledge their contribution by having job upgrades and promotions once a year.

We also show a lot of support to working moms at Inmagine. It’s an open door policy that any moms with issues can address their problems with our Talent & Culture Dept and we always help them find a solution proactively. Sometimes it is just a simple request like flexible work hours due to some issues with school, or caretakers, it is something that the Company is always willing to accommodate. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is your trick to work life balance?

Sitt: I believe in three core principles: Discipline, empowerment, and knowing your priorities.

Discipline: I live everyday in a very structured manner. I make sure my business schedule is planned around my kids’ school’s time table.  I send and pick them from school every day without fail. They are now in year eight. It is those moments in the car that we talk about the anticipations for the day.  When they are done with the classes, we talk about what happened in school and what they have learned. Sometimes, we exchange interesting encounters of the day. I share what's going on with my work and what I had for lunch!

It’s like sticking to a time table every day. I still work late nights due to business meetings with my colleagues in the US and Europe but I would always spare half an hour before bedtime for my kids so that we have a bonding session, then I would continue my meetings after our usual goodnight kiss. I am still able to get six hours of sleep everyday which is not bad at all!   

Empowerment: As a business owner, most of my time is about delegation of work, communicating them and making tough decisions. We have to trust that the people working around us are capable of helping us solve problems.

Build a strong management team. Identify those talents who have been in the business for a long time, and see how they can further help with any new projects. Offer opportunities to the team to manage a project, take risks. I always feel very proud when they accomplish success! Of course, there are times that we fail. Most importantly, we do not blame each other and I realize that each time we fail, we get even stronger together.

Priority: My priority is always business and family. To be honest, I spare very little time for myself but during the last three years I've started to focus on myself more. I’ve started to exercise and go for a massage when needed. Although running a business allows flexibility in managing my time, I focus heavily on my priorities. Even on the weekend, I would still be working for a few hours and also spend quality time with family, like walking the dog, exercising with my husband and baking with my kids.  I also make sure I spend time with my mother who is in her 70s. 

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(Photo courtesy: 123RF)

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