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The name may be Cosmetic Executive Women, but since 2010, men have become an important segment of the roster.
This story first appeared in the June 27, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Why limit our membership to only women when men can attend all of our events? It made perfect sense,” explained Jill Scalamandre, chairwoman of CEW and senior vice president of Philosophy Brand and Coty Prestige Skincare. “We have always received enormous support from the men in the business.”
Carlotta Jacobson, CEW president, added, “Men have enlarged our community. We are no longer an organization of us but of all.” Since men were given the green light, their ranks have soared from 170 to 720 and represent more than 12 percent of the membership base.
Beyond the fact that men have always contributed to CEW, inclusion has been a boost to the advancement of women in the beauty industry. Many believe now that men are official members, they’ve helped tear down the barriers that stymied women’s ascent up the corporate hierarchy.
Christina Hennington, Target Corp.’s vice president of beauty and personal care and CEW board of governors member, put it succinctly: “The only way to create a truly inclusive environment that is committed to supporting the development and advancement of its members, is to include all the potential stakeholders in that process. Men are clearly an important piece in that puzzle.”
The men who are members seem happy to complete the picture. “CEW played a foundational role in the cosmetics industry and they continue to inspire the next generation,” said John Demsey, group president for the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.
“I think it is great we let down the barriers and opened the gates,” he added, comparing it to the reverse of the Friar’s Club allowing women. “It is great to empower and develop talent across gender lines.”
CEW research revealed men want the same member benefits as women — primarily networking and learning from leaders. To that end, men give a thumbs-up to the myriad opportunities.
“I became a member of CEW as soon as I discovered that they were accepting men,” said Matthew Frost, vice president of global fine fragrance and beauty care marketing for International Flavors & Fragrances. “I had been attending some of the speaker series events, and even hired through the Web site, before I was able to actually become a member myself. I find the events enlightening and extremely useful in providing inspiration for new ways to approach my job.”
David Rubin, vice president of marketing, U.S. hair, at Unilever, agreed CEW’s worth transcends gender. “Personally, I’ve benefited from the organization’s external seminars and training to gain industry insights and networking and partnership opportunities. CEW is a unique organization that inspires and motivates me to be a better marketer in the beauty and grooming space.”
The opportunity for aspiring beauty executives to find mentors is also outstanding, said Demsey. This is especially crucial as the role of women beauty executives expands from counters to c-suites.
Don’t discount how much men enjoy the friendly competition presented by CEW’s coveted awards. “We diligently compete for CEW awards and it fosters healthy competition to be part of the organization,” said Demsey.
The honors give men a chance to acknowledge their teams — both male and female. “Some of my proudest moments in the industry have been alongside CEW — from Unilever being honored with the 2013 Corporate Empowerment for Women Award, watching my colleague Gina Boswell be honored with an Achiever Award and proudly cheering on our brands as they are nominated for and win CEW beauty awards,” said Rubin.
With male membership, CEW has adopted a more holistic, inclusive message it feels is relevant to men and women. With CEW’s importance in the beauty industry, the decision to reach out to men was a no-brainer. “Carlotta has done an extraordinary job of bringing CEW into the 21st century, while bringing men on the ride as part of the journey,” concluded Demsey.