Diversity, Inclusion, CotugnoPhoto, Charles Cotugno Photography, vision impaired, office

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Diversity & Inclusion initiatives, like any other marketing campaign, need impactful imagery to attract the best talent to your organization. 

The good news? Thousands of companies have realized the importance of having a diverse and inclusive workforce and competing for talent. As I’ve always phrased it, “It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the right thing to do for your business.” 

The bad news? Now your business now has to rise above everyone else to get noticed by the talent you’re trying to attract. To be successful you need to embark on a well oiled marketing campaign without appearing too slick. If your diversity and inclusion efforts don’t come off as genuine, you could end up doing more harm than good to your reputation. 

So why is photography a key element to your success? Exactly how does photography figure into, or even matter to, your D&I efforts?


I’m constantly speaking with organizations of all kinds about how they can become more effective with their D&I efforts. We talk about where they’re lacking and the type of talent they want to attract. We discuss a strategy for improvement. We’ll even come up with ideas for marketing plan. Most organizations do a fairly decent job of getting their message out. But when asked about creating the images that will make a killer first impression, they want to use stock photography.

Before I go on, I don’t want to leave the impression that I’m against stock photography. I completely understand the it’s economic advantages. It’s relatively inexpensive and well produced. But it’s become a commodity and is very easily identifiable as such. It typically shows beautiful models in just the right light while performing some kind of activity that could be happening almost anywhere. And that in itself reflects a lack of effort and authenticity to the D&I talent pool.

Your opportunity to rise above the crowd.

What you must convey at first glance, before a word of your text is written, is your unique culture. Your images must tell each candidate what makes your business more attractive than other. The value of using images that portray your employees, in your workplace, contributing to your products and service offerings can not be over stated. If you can’t visually convey your culture in the time it takes someone to scroll past it, your efforts have most likely failed.

Our DNA is programmed to use our vision as the primary sense to identify what stands out from the crowd. And an image that is an authentic representation of your organization will stand above just about any generic image your competition is using. Think of the positive impact when a potential D&I hire shows up for an interview and sees the very people you’ve featured in your marketing. It makes everything real and immediately establishes an emotional connection. That’s a connection with immeasurable ROI!

One last thing to consider. Stock images are available for licensing by anyone who pays the fee. Although the odds may seem slim, there are countless examples of stock images being used simultaneously by a company’s competitors, a politician’s rival, or by two organizations whose values are 180 degrees opposite. When added to all the advantages of using customized photography for your D&I efforts, is it really worth the risk? 


Charlie Cotugno is a commercial and privately commissioned photographer specializing in creating images for diversity and inclusion initiatives. Along with a team of marketing and creative professionals he provides an end to end D&I marketing solution to companies and organizations of all sizes. To learn more about how he can help your organization please visit www.cotugnophoto.com.

Charlie is also the founder and principal photographer for the nationally acclaimed project Stories of Autism which incorporates the fine art portraits of adults and children on the autism spectrum with their stories to raise awareness, acceptance, and inclusion.