Diversity in Stock Photos

Good  morning! At my company my eLearning courses are expected to reflect the diversity and inclusion of our employees and leaders.  However, when searching for a female businesswoman on the phone (female business call, female phone call, etc.), my search results came back with a sea of blonde, white females.  Most were just casual clothing but the few that were dressed professionally were in a call center type of environment.  I only found one photo of a businesswoman on the phone, and she was wearing a very short, tight dress.

I'm sure in 2020 that there can be more diversity in the images.  What can we do, as a community, to help support and develop a more diverse stock photo supply?

17 Replies
Allison LaMotte

Hi Don, 

Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback.

We know how important it is to be able to find diverse images to create effective and inclusive e-learning. And you’re right, the challenge with stock photos accurately representing demographics is very real. 

We're frustrated by this too and while we haven’t solved it yet, we have found some ways to help. Check out these tips and tricks on nailing down keywords and phrases to hone in on the images you really want: How to Find the Images You Want in Content Library 360.

And please reach out if you have any more questions!

Don Becker


Thank you for responding.  I don't believe the skill of keyword searching has the profound change on finding diversity in images as we hope.  For example, I am looking for a professional female making a phone call.  My first search was "female business call", which in the first 20 images pulled up 2 men, 0 women of color, 2 brunette women, 14 blonde women, and 0 businesswomen (see screenshot).

I then searched for "African American Women Phone Call" to push for results with women of color.  The first 20 images came back with 0 women of color, 0 women faces, and 17 white hands holding a cell phone.

I don't expect the global issue of racial diversity to be solved in the next 5 minutes, but I do expect that the content library could better represent the professional community that utilizes your amazing tools.  I also know that change doesn't happen with only one person, but it can start that way.  So again I ask, what can we as an Articulate eLearning Hero community do to enhance the diversity of stock photo supplies?


Ulises Musseb

I have found some of diversity in stock images in some of the mainstream stock photos sites. My challenge is finding the same person more than once for variety, and when I find more than one image of that person, sometimes the person is either smiling too much (stock photographs are the only ones showing patients having fun in the ICU) or in a pose that doesn't convey my message (thank God for Photoshop). I've gone as far as photoshopping people darker, older and fatter, and sad.

It is an ongoing challenge for me to find the right diversity in images, but with some ingenuity and Photoshop, I have found it possible.

To address the question, I think that a good improvement would be to add people with less than perfect bodies. I know that Articulate does listen to requests and suggestions from the community, but I guess that when it comes to characters and images, there's some catching up to do with diversity (and it's not just about ethnic or age diversity). I'd like to see:

  1. People NOT smiling all the time
  2. Overweight people/different body types - at all ages
  3. People with hair representative of their race
  4. No more cliche poses (if I see another doctor with his arms crossed and a stethoscope around his neck!)
  5. Easy to manipulate backgrounds

I'd be the happiest Developer in the planet if I got at least one or two of those.

Don Becker

I believe that is a good list to start with.  As I said in my OP, I was really looking for a professional looking woman who was on the phone.  I didn't care about any other parameters, just those I identified.  However, as each search result came more and more disappointing results, I felt I needed to speak up and bring awareness.

Maybe there is a way for us as a community to take pictures and upload them as submissions for inclusion in the stock photo resources?

Kristin Hatcher

Wow, I have this exact same request, and my biggest frustration is not the lack of photos, but the lack of advanced search options. It seems like if I search for "business diversity" I get results for business OR diversity, but not both, even if I put the phrase in quotes. And why did I get an image of a guy on a motorcycle and another of a drone flying over a field in those search results? It would also be nice to have a "more like this" button, where you can identify a picture that is getting closer to what you want and have the system search for similar images - preferably not necessarily visually similar but similar in keywords. 

Having a single search field seems like the main problem to me. If you have millions of images, you MUST have advanced search options. 

To be clear, I'm very happy to have access to such a large library, but the value of it is greatly diminished when you can't effectively find what you need. I'm going to experiment with Boolean searching, but I definitely would like to put my name in for any enhancement request that involves advanced search options. Thank you!

Kristin Hatcher

Another thought: based on the linked article it sounds like many of the photos in the Articulate library may have been tagged by the photographers, and those tags may or may not match what the photo is actually of. What about letting community members add tags to photos? Or even just adding "categories" by selecting from a defined list? I understand if we don't want someone coming along and adding a tag of "Kristin's favorite" to a given photo as that is not useful to anyone else and too much of that would potentially increase the database size too much, but a defined list of attributes may be helpful, and then you can get the community to assist. 

Also, allowing individuals to tag favorites is maybe a good idea. Or not, not sure how that would affect Db size. 

Don Becker


I would also love to know if an update is being planned or if the idea has even made it up the ladder.  Considering the current climate, it still seems completely irrational that there is a lack of diversity in the images.  Even more irrational is that there is no plans to change it.

Please understand that my arrow is pointed to Articulate the company, not the amazing eLearning Heroes like Allison and Sarah.  Both have been incredibly helpful in other articles I have read or posted.  I work (well in the Before Time, now I look at my kids who are quite similar to me) in an office filled with diversity and inclusion and would love to have stock photos that represents my work space.

Emma Mallon

Hi there - Are there any updates to share on this request?

Our company recently purchased Articulate 360 to author some e-learning. The more I delve into the stock photos available, the more obvious it becomes that there's a real lack of diversity in the subjects of the Content Library 360 photos. 

Like the other posters, I've tried all kinds of keywords and search combinations.