Beauty is trying to be better, but we have a lot of work to do.
Black lives matter. Racial justice, both locally and globally, is long overdue. And every one of us deserves to live in a world—and to work in an industry—that appreciates a true continuum of beauty, without rank or privilege. We are ready for beauty that welcomes the colors, cultures, and contributions of all people.
Can Beauty be a Leading-Edge Industry When It Comes to Social Justice?
The cosmetics and personal care industry is often celebrated for being innovative, for bringing leading-edge digital and molecular technologies to market, for prototyping the medical concepts of tomorrow, for delivering on up-to-the-minute / TikTok-worthy consumer trends, and for implementing planet-happy sustainability initiatives.
And what we have a chance to do now is foreground the wisdom and the talent that has been muffled and coopted and sidelined all along. Even before the current Black Lives Matter movement, peoples who have not had access to equal representation in the cosmetics, personal care, and fragrance business were building momentum, claiming space to make true equality possible.
Beauty Biz Initiatives Making Real Room for Black Founders, Leaders, and Consumers
I am thinking here of ventures like Project Beauty Expo, an online platform and offline conference and brand discovery show highlighting the businesses and expertise of Black beauty brand founders.
I am thinking of the organization called 25 Black Women in Beauty, launched on Juneteenth of 2019, that elevates and promotes Black women working all across the beauty industry.
And I am thinking of the recent partnership between the data and insights company Nielsen and Romina Brown’s category growth management company Strategic Solutions International
These are only a few examples of Black women claiming space and making this business better.
Black Lives Matter Sparks Further Change in Beauty
And since Black Lives Matter has picked up momentum even more is being accomplished:
Sharon Chuter #PullUpOrShutUp campaign is one example. Her campaign asks multinational beauty manufacturers and retailers to openly share data on the number of Black employees at the corporate and executive levels of their companies
The 15% Pledge [established by Aurora James] calls on retailers to devote 15% of shelf space to Black-owned brands. A new Instagram account called Brown Girl Hands [created by Hannah Harris] highlights the lack of representation in beauty photography.
And new educational forums like The Beauty Entrepreneurship Community Roundtable [hosted by Melody Brockelman] and Clean Beauty Summer School [from Tower 28 and that brand’s Founder Amy Liu] are helping Black beauty entrepreneurs get access to information and insights that haven’t been readily available.
For Cosmetics Industry, Racial Justice Work is Everyone’s Responsibility
Still, it’s imperative that we all acknowledge that this is not a movement about someone else doing the work. It’s not about waiting and watching Black women or Gen Z affect change.
As Roberto Marques, CEO of Natura, said last month when that company published its Commitment to Life, “We are the generation that has the knowledge and the technology to stem the tide of global temperatures, put an end to the global waste issue, and create equality for those who need it most.”
One way that we—as beauty insiders and professionals—can make the cosmetics and personal care industry more equal is to recognize that consumers aren’t the only ones with spending power.
Here on LinkedIn, I’m building a list of Black-owned beauty ingredient suppliers, packaging companies, testing labs, and product manufacturers. It is important that we see these industry leaders and support their businesses.
Will Beauty Pros Make Racial Justice an Industry Priority?
This moment in history is a real chance to deconstruct social and institutional racism.
The cosmetics and personal care industry is often celebrated for being innovative, for advancing change, and for performing well in challenging times. Now is our opportunity to create an industry that stands out for our support of racial justice, humanity, and equality.
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this DUviews item was originally posted to LinkedIn and now appears on DeannaUtroske.com