International Women's Day: Change Begins with Imagination

Cartography by Molly Roy, from “Nonstop Metropolis,” by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro. Subway Route Symbols ® Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Cartography by Molly Roy, from “Nonstop Metropolis,” by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro. Subway Route Symbols ® Metropolitan Transportation Authority

There’s a wonderful reimagined map of the New York City subway in which writer Rebecca Solnit renames every street after a woman who made a lasting contribution. Of her map, titled City of Women, Solnit writes:

“How does it impact our imaginations that so many places in so many cities are named after men and so few after women? What kind of landscape do we move through when streets and parks and statues and bridges are gendered—Astor Place, Lafayette Street, Madison Avenue, Lincoln Center, Washington Square, the Frick, Rockefeller Center, Penn Station, the Bronx, the Hudson—and it’s usually one gender, and not another? What kind of silence arises in places that so seldom speak of and to women? This map was made to sing the praises of the extraordinary women who have, since the beginning, been shapers and heroes of this city that has always been, secretly, a City of Women. And why not the subway? This is a history still emerging from underground, a reminder that it’s all connected, and that we get around.”

One thing we keep hearing from clients who hire us to do D&I work is that culture is often perceived internally as a side project; something to attend to when the day’s work is done. As we know, the day’s work is rarely done and intentionally engaging with culture keeps getting pushed aside. But culture permeates and shapes each interaction, in both subtle and large ways. How does the language we use in business impact our imaginations? What gets silenced in that language and in those terms?

Our commitment for this International Women’s Day is to go beyond the one-off celebration of women or engagement with social causes. Our commitment is to the nuance and perseverance required to create meaningful change. We commit to be more mindful and intentional about how the language we use shapes our imagination as a team every day this year. We’ll also speak to at least 5 potential clients about how we can help them reimagine their culture to make them more inclusive.

Let us know if you want to take part in these conversations.