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DE&I in European Beauty Companies

A recent study on the subject was carried out by CEW U.K., The MBS Group and ScienceMagic Inc.

PARIS — Despite progress, there’s still a lot to be done in the quest for diversity, equity and inclusion in the European beauty industry, a new report finds.

The study, billed as the first of its kind, was recently published jointly by CEW United Kingdom; The MBS Group, an executive search firm, and ScienceMagic Inc., a brand-building company, which reached out to more than 100 of the largest beauty companies in Europe.

The report found that although many consumer-facing shifts have taken place already to sell products more relevant to a variety of people and needs, the beauty workplace remains challenged today on the DE&I front. In the five biggest beauty businesses operating in the U.K., the study found 71 percent of executive committee seats were held by white middle-aged men, for instance.

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As with other consumer-facing industries, such as retail, consumer goods, hospitality, travel and leisure, there are strong levels of gender and ethnic minority representation at senior levels in the beauty industry in Europe. For example, at the direct-reports level, 59 percent are women and 19 percent are ethnic minorities.

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However, at the more senior levels of executive leadership, those numbers drop off. Of the companies taking part in the study, 48 percent of the businesses have no ethnic minority representation on their boards, and 51 percent have no ethnic minority on their executive committees.

“Research from McKinsey has shown that executive teams featuring gender diversity are 25 percent more likely to outperform those that don’t, and teams with ethnic diversity are 36 percent more likely to outperform those without it,” said the report, called “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Beauty Sector.”

“Our research found that while there is an appetite for progress, and a number of excellent initiatives in place across the sector, there is still some way to go to,” wrote Huw Llewellyn-Waters, director, consumer goods practice at The MBS Group, in the study. “After all, with an evolving industry identity, and a large proportion of women in the customer and employee base, the beauty sector is particularly well-placed to progress on DE&I — and to quickly see its benefits.”

“In conducting this report, we have seen that while there is an appetite for change and discussion, DE&I is a relatively underdeveloped topic in comparison to other sectors, such as retail, travel and consumer goods,” continued Sallie Berkerey, managing director of CEW U.K. “We also recognized that there was a reluctance in the sector to openly discuss DE&I strategies and performance, and we hope to see a change in this as we move forward and encourage the whole industry to be more active in the discussion.”

Less than 50 percent of companies contacted actually took part in the study, which points to DE&I being an underdeveloped topic in the beauty industry. To help fill in the information gaps, the study included publicly available and verified data.

“Developing the pipeline of female talent and placing women in the top positions is a commercial imperative for businesses looking to succeed in the future,” the study said.

Further, consumers are increasingly gravitating toward companies focused on DE&I and are pressuring groups to be more performant on related issues.

There’s not a single recipe to reach these ends.

“The beauty industry is extremely fragmented, including a large number of small businesses. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to DE&I,” said the report, which also gives case studies from the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., Benefit and Revolution Beauty.

For more, see:

Inside Beauty’s Board Diversity

Leena Nair Seen Boosting Diversity as Chanel’s New Global CEO

Tracee Ellis Ross on Diversity and Products With Purpose at the 2021 Beauty Inc Awards