The Beauty Industry Falls Short on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

… ;I) Within the Beauty Industry forum, presented by Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW … , diversity & equity officer, The Estée Lauder Companies; and Shelly McNamara, chief equality … Twine, founder and CEO, Briogeo Hair Care, pointed out DE&I …

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Just 12% of Black women said that they had a voice in the beauty industry, according to results of a survey by Cosmetic Executive Women. Earlier this month CEW held a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Within the Beauty Industry forum, presented by Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW). In addition to revealing the results of CEW’s 2022 DE&I Research Survey Results, it included a Google presentation on the importance of Allyship and Intersectionality in the DE&I conversation; and a Leaders in Beauty Panel, which looked at the evolution of DE&I within the beauty industry. CEW conducted its first DE&I survey last year.

“The industry-wide DE&I survey uncovered insights to build best practices and recognize key challenges facing employees and employers in the industry,” said CEW President Carlotta Jacobson. She said the results of the survey, which was funded by P&G and Unilever, will help advance inclusivity and equity in the beauty workplace.

The survey was based on responses from 1,400 men and women. It was conducted by CEW and Modulize, Inc., and took place in August 2022.

“Conversations about diversity aren’t always easy, and it does take a village to assure we have a diverse and equitable workplace,” said CEW DE&I Task Force Chair Karen Chambers, an innovator in multicultural beauty. 

2022 DE&I Research Survey Results

Tiyale Hayes, founder, Modulize, presented the results of the study, noting that its benefits included assessing the needs of CEW members and uncovering insights, as it “expanded both inter-gender and across gender.”

The survey included 1,100 women and 300 men.

“Only 12% of Black women completely agreed they had a voice in the industry, and 60% moved to other companies to advance,” said Hayes. “This year we looked deeper, and the objectives were to quantify the experiences and perceptions of the beauty employees,” he said. “Progress is being made and it’s impacting everyone in the beauty industry, but women aren’t closing the promotion gap.”

To illustrate, he utilized the GRASP Model:

• G = Growth Goals: What is being done to grow talent? What are the messages women are not getting that signal role importance? What can the industry do to provide clear goals for promotion?

• R = Recognize and Reach: How does the industry find ways to see the commonalities of all women, while respecting the unique intersection of gender and culture?

• A = Active Advocacy: How can the industry help give voice to women? What can the industry do to close the gap on the sense of value they give vs. the value they receive?

• S = Sponsorship and Mentorship: How can we help support junior team members with sponsors and mentors? How can sponsors provide information to aid in accelerating career advancement and salary negotiation to help close pay gaps?

• P = Plan for the Future: Conduct a salary benchmarking study to understand pay disparities; plan allyship training.

“Over the past five years there have been substantial role changes,” Hayes said. He noted almost half of women surveyed changed roles in the past year, versus 21% in 2021. 

Changing Jobs for Promotion Opportunities

“Asian women had the most change,” said Hayes, and “while the market is moving, not everyone is moving at the same rate.”

Over half of the Asian and Black women in the beauty industry survey have not been promoted in the past five years; 28% of Black women, and 23% of Hispanic women have changed companies three or more times to get a promotion; and only 12% of Black women completely agree they have a voice in the industry.

Women of Color say it’s difficult to climb the ladder at just one company.

Hayes observed, “While women are receiving mentoring and sponsorship in the organization, Black women are mentoring on average more mentees than non-Black women.”   

Hayes also noted the discrepancy between male and female perception of professional roles. More than 50% of the men surveyed rate their positions as extremely important.

“Men are receiving signals that their roles are important,” said Hayes, noting that the industry must stay diligent in this area. He called for Reflection, suggesting that factors contributing to the gender gap and the perception of personal role importance are key. “These signals manifest themselves in different ways,” he explained; noting that perceptions of belonging and value should include tangible experiences of equity and inclusion.

Study findings revealed that 59% of Black women feel valued in the industry, compared to 73% of white women, 69% of Hispanic women and 68% of Asian women.

“Feelings of value in the industry are not reciprocated with women,” said Hayes. Further, he stated, “Value, voice, and having a future are key factors when looking inside a company. It’s no surprise that you see so much movement in companies among Black women.” He emphasized the importance of being thoughtful and demonstrating empathy.

Additionally, he noted that micro-aggressions in the workplace are still being experienced, with 70% of Black women and 31% of Hispanic women saying they experience micro-aggressions. These occur among members of work teams, management and clients. One-third of Hispanic women stated they had experienced micro-aggressions by clients, this is double the rate of other groups.

Addressing the impact of Mentorship and Sponsorship, he said this year’s survey provided a clear definition of each, and the roles they play in the workplace. Findings showed that 62% of all women had a mentor; and 35% of all women at the director’s level had a sponsor. This is two times the rate of women below director’s level.

“How can we shore up junior members and give them what they need?” he asked.

Hayes emphasized the importance of professional development, explaining that while nearly all the respondents had access to professional development, white and Asian women sought this development within the company; while more Black women were seeking development training outside the workplace.

Interestingly, on the subject of pay equity, more men perceive their companies as trying to close the gender pay gap than women. More than 8 in 10 (82%) of men perceived their salaries are becoming more competitive between men and women. Women do not agree. In particular, Black women are more likely to say their salary is not competitive vs. men. Only 18% of Black women say it’s competitive, while 46% of Black women do not agree that it’s competitive. Overall, it was found that there is a stark negative perception of pay equity, which is most pronounced with Black and Asian women.

Hayes concluded with a look at the importance of Allyship, and a Plan for the Future. Explaining that his role is to drive belonging and allyship, and challenge norms and stereotypes, he elaborated on the negative impact of violent programming and videos depicting aggression against Black individuals.

“We have a long way to go in this society, and it’s not easy to change the established, unwritten rules of the way power is wielded in the workplace,” Hayes observed.

He asked such fundamental questions as: How can all women show up for each other? How can we understand and address pay disparities? He suggested a salary benchmarking study to understand the disparities that exist, not to criticize, but to advocate.

“Everyone in this survey was in the beauty industry. The responses revealed the disparities that continue to exist, and suggest a range of approaches to positive change, both within the systems that exist, as well as the approach to procedures and structures,” concluded Hayes.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Beauty Leaders Panel

Kendra Speed, principal, KNS Consulting, LLC moderated the Beauty Leaders panel, which included Angela Guy, chief diversity equity & inclusion officer, L’Oréal North America; Marilu Marshall, senior vice president, executive management and global chief inclusion, diversity & equity officer, The Estée Lauder Companies; and Shelly McNamara, chief equality and inclusion officer, P&G.

Speed asked the panel to “take the temperature” of their company’s DE&I. McNamara noted the importance of engagement with diversity teams in enhancing the innovation process. “For us at P&G, we build it in, we don’t bolt it on. It’s a core part of our structure, how we engage with brands, as well as communities.”

Guy of L’Oréal, noted that the marketplace in beauty now is extremely dynamic; with individuals identifying as two or more races.

“I love the energy that companies are taking in stepping into this space.” She added, “The fact that we’ve got three individuals of color discussing these questions today is light years ahead of where it’s been, and this inclusivity drives our strategies at L’Oréal.”

Marilu Marshall, The Estée Lauder Companies, said, the temperature is hot—for consumers and investors.

“It’s part of our DNA to have inclusion and diversity. After 24 years at The Estée Lauder Companies, I can say that inclusion and diversity are important in keeping our family values at Lauder.”

Marshall noted the CEO Reverse Mentorship Program at Lauder, across junior and senior talent. ELC also has focused programs for our Black talent and Hispanic talent.

“Our mentorship at P&G has sustained us over time. We have it as an expectation for the next generation of talent,” said McNamara. Further, she stated, “We’ve been doing a good job of bringing attention to overcoming the gap. We started with pairings among our Black and brown employees, and we hold our executives accountable for development in that pipeline.”

L’Oréal has a tool that links with an algorithm to connect mentees and mentors together, in a six-month program, explained Guy.

The market is moving in the right direction, but more work is needed.

“We’re already starting to see an increase in promotions and lateral development, and we’re excited to see more as we go forward with that tool.”

Moderator Speed asked the panel to share their thoughts on where they see the greatest inspiration.

“I can appreciate this question, because I’ve always tried to figure out what inspires people to do what they do. I majored in Industrial Psychology, and I’m really excited to see and understand the resilience of people,” said Guy. She noted how outreach to communities and organizations further inspire the DE&I strategy at L’Oréal.

“All of our journeys are shaped by our unique identities. I’m inspired by my daughters and I’m inspired by this generation of young people to make things better. They have a level of commitment to make sure that their friend groups and associates are part of a unique family. I’m inspired by the level of expansion they bring into the world,” said McNamara.

Marshall, who was raised in a Cuban family, recalled a conversation with her grandmother who said her goal of becoming a lawyer was not a career for a girl. Thankfully, she recalled, her mother told her she could do anything she wanted. Her other inspiration was learning about DE&I first hand. She said that as part of an interracial couple, married to a civil rights attorney, she has been inspired by the movement, as well as her international travels, which she said have impacted her perspective on diversity.

McNamara noted that her experiences enabled her to build the skill set to articulate and reflect the insights developed in her unique journey.

When asked how to get involved in change in the DE&I space, Guy noted the changes she has observed over the years, noting that organizations have continued to evolve in their support of DE&I initiatives and advocacy.

“The advice I would give now is try it, jump in, don’t be intimidated, come in where you are. And I think CEW is a place where we can all learn and grow together.”

Marshall agreed, saying, “Build relationships across groups. Join a group that’s not your affinity group. There’s no such thing as not being senior enough to participate in DE&I. Everything helps and makes a difference.”

McNamara added, “Representation matters. As Angela Guy mentioned, ‘Look at who’s in the room,’ and I would add from a brand context, look for representation, reach, and relevance.”

Valuing Allyship

Torrence Boone, VP-global client partnerships, Google, addressed the subject of allyship; i.e., a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups of people. Boone noted allyship plays an important role in driving equity. He said that in beauty there is the specific dynamic of female and male representation.

“In a study conducted by Google, men were shown to be fundamentally afraid of being labeled sexist, so they often remained silent and withheld valuable information for fear of compromising their own position,” said Boone. He stated that acknowledgement and empathy form a powerful bridge in understanding.

To form stronger allyship, he encouraged communication, saying, “Fear shuts down dialogue. Google’s approach is to learn, group, and act. In the context of crafting Google’s racial equity commitments, we learned that unleashing the power of allies’ passion will enable energy to drive and address these issues, and result in an action plan.”


Speak Up, Speak Out on DEI Issues

Nancy Twine, founder and CEO, Briogeo Hair Care, pointed out DE&I is becoming and should be, a part of the consumer, investor, and shareholder equation. In her closing remarks, Twine emphasized the importance of internal mentorship programs and noted the value of the data and its relationship to accountability.

Key takeaways:
• Continue to emphasize engagement
• Continue to speak up and speak out, challenge yourself
• Embrace the power of story telling

“The topic of DE&I has expanded beyond representation to allyship in understanding the importance of belonging, so everyone feels a sense of equity,” concluded Twine.

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