Yes! The Madam Vice President Is 'My' Madam Vice President

Optimistic about Kamala Harris boosting BIPOC representation in leadership

I am proud that I can say “Madam Vice President” to the first Southeast Asian-American, the first African-American and the first female vice president in U.S. history. I am energized that millions of girls will see endless possibilities rather than endless limitations for themselves and those who look like them, and  know that they not only can play any role they wish to and work hard at, but that they can start movements and create opportunities when none exist. 

Today’s inauguration ceremony marks not just the start of a new presidency, but also a new era for the BIPOC community—and particularly, for women of color. Kamala Harris as the vice president is colossal for women of color, who must overcome both racism and sexism to get access to opportunities, and then excel at those opportunities to be successful. 

Sad facts about representation

I’m an immigrant, and a marketer by profession; it’s not often that I encounter another marketing leader who looks like me. It remains a sad fact that not many Southeast Asian women hold marketing leadership positions. It’s even sadder that for the few women who do, they are not typically highlighted for their work. I rarely see people that look like me in advertising, whether it’s beauty, healthcare or banking—even though I am a consumer of the same set of products and services that everyone else is. While it’s great to see more and more women (and men) of color get appointed to positions of leadership, we have a long way to go. 

In part, a lack of BIPOC in leadership is due to existing systems that promote a world where we don’t have role models that look like us in positive positions of authority—whether it’s CEOs, CMOs, political leaders, policymakers or superheroes. The absence of these role models can affect self-esteem. And it reduces resilience against racism, perpetuating these systems. 

What this inauguration means

Today’s inauguration is one major blow to that centuries-old system, and one that points towards a more inclusive world.  

I am optimistic that Kamala Harris’s election will boost representation for BIPOC communities across the board. Until we have fair representation, as marketers, let’s commit to doing our part in amplifying the voices of people of color by including, understanding and nurturing these voices and what they stand for. 

When we find that those voices are missing in the rooms we are in, let’s commit to creating opportunities for those voices. It’s not just about being included; it’s also about being heard. It’s well-past time to ask the questions: “What perspectives are we missing here today? How do we ensure that we consider those to make our work better and more inclusive?”

We may not have satisfactory answers yet. Still, at this moment, let’s all feel proud.