Emojis have become a universal language, with 6 billion sent every day. Yet, a majority of global emoji users say they want to see more inclusive representation.
Adobe has released its Global Emoji Diversity and Inclusion Report, which surveyed 7,000 global emoji users and discovered a majority of people of color and people from marginalized groups use emojis not only as a display of their own identity but as a form of representation.
However, 54 percent said they felt their identity was not reflected in the current library of emojis, and 83 percent of those surveyed said emojis should strive for better representation. Among the top categories users wanted to see expanded were race, ethnicity, age and culture.
In light of these findings, the software company is partnering with Emojination, a grassroots organization that advocates for more inclusive emojis and supported creator Yiying Lu with both her boba tea and dumpling emojis.
"Adobe’s support has been critical to Emojination’s five-year push for more inclusive and representative emoji," Jennifer 8. Lee, a co-founder of Emojination, shared in a statement, "as it allows us to provide support to the passionate individuals who are pushing to see themselves and their cultures represented, which has resulted in emoji for sari, hijab, boomerang, piñata, matryoshka doll, long drum, arepa and bubble tea."
The report surveyed users across seven countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, Australia and South Korea. It found customization options were important for people of color in the U.S. and U.K., with 85 percent of Black emoji users, 72 percent of Asian emoji users and 78 percent of Latinx emoji users saying they were likely to customize their icon. Nearly 7 in 10 global users who identify as LGBTQ were also likely to customize their emoji.
Another key finding was that a majority of users believed emojis could spark positive conversations about important cultural and societal issues. Users were also most delighted to see gender- and culture-inclusive emojis like a person feeding a baby, bubble tea and a person in a tuxedo.
An important consideration to remember is that though anyone can propose an emoji to the Unicode Consortium, a nonprofit that ensures words and images are read the same way on devices around the world, it is a lengthy process where candidates are narrowed down through a variety of factors like use and popularity.
Adobe typeface designer Paul Hunt explained the challenges behind diversifying emojis. As he has worked on getting more gender-inclusive people into the Unicode Standard system, Hunt has realized just how limited emojis are, since they can only fit so many details.
"When it comes to even smaller details, such as eye color, we are talking about manipulating just a few pixels, and it is difficult to do this in a meaningful way," he said in a company blog post.
However, he still encouraged people to make their case to the Unicode Consortium and reminded readers that Emojination and Adobe can provide resources to support them in their endeavors.
"If you have an emoji you would like to see or a personalization option you think should be implemented to make emoji more inclusive, there are allies and resources that can help," he wrote. "You do not have to go it alone."