I worked at a company that designed products and wrote books for the arts and crafts industry. One of my first assignments was to design a line of stickers that fit on bottle caps. I did a sheet of cartoonish faces, with several skin tones, to make the sheet inclusive.
While reviewing the product line, my boss made a face at the sticker faces sheet.
Me: Are they too silly?
Client: No, they just all need to be this color.
She pointed to the lightest skin tone.
Me: I was hoping to make this set inclusive, so all kinds of kids would see themselves reflected in them.
She wrinkled her nose, and said that our customers were mostly white, so our products should be white. Yikes.
I made the corrections, and started noticing that this happened a lot. Photos in our books? White people only. Hand shots? White hands only. Image collections? White faces only.
At the last trade show I did with the company, a long-time customer came up to me, and asked if we had any products that looked like her. She was an older black woman who walked with a cane, so I asked her to be more specific. She indicated her face, and I quietly said “Not at our company. Probably not ever at our company.”
I quit shortly afterwards, started my own company, and one of the first things I produced was an image collection of black faces, named after that customer.