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Estée Lauder Inaugurates Emerging Leaders Fund

The brand is bolstering women in leadership with a new fund, including a $1 million initial investment and partnership with Vital Voices.

Estée Lauder has set its sights on a new philanthropic endeavor: women in leadership.

Through the Estée Lauder Cos. Charitable Foundation, the brand is creating the Estée Lauder Emerging Leaders Fund, meant to foster women in leadership. Lauder’s initial investment in the fund is $1 million, and its inaugural partner is global nonprofit Vital Voices.

“The Estée Lauder Emerging Leaders Fund and its first exciting partnership with Vital Voices will help enable women to develop skills to lead with strength, determination and impact. With a workforce that is predominately women, we have a profound responsibility to help the next generation of women thrive as visionary leaders,” said Jane Hertzmark Hudis, executive group president, in an email.

The effort has been years in the making and, according to executives, is just the latest in an ongoing effort to support women in leadership positions.

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“The fund is here to really reinforce the brand’s long-term commitment to change the face of leadership by investing in the new generation of emerging leaders,” said Stéphane de La Faverie, group president, the Estée Lauder Cos. and global brand president of Estée Lauder and Aerin. “The brand ultimately wants to dismantle stereotypes about leadership and gender.”

Lauder commissioned Glocalites, a market research firm, to conduct a global study with more than 5,700 participants in 11 countries. “The interesting thing is that we were wrong in thinking what makes a great leader today. There is a fundamental disconnect between the stereotypes and the reality of how men and women see themselves and what they want of a great leader,” de La Faverie said. “Statistics from the U.N. say it is going to take 100 years to challenge gender equality. We want to challenge this statistic.”

That research further informed the partnership, including the creation of a virtual course. Lauder and Vital Voices have also created a seven-week program, called VV Visionaries Leadership Training. “In this research, women and men around the world are telling us a certain of number of things that need to be changed,” de La Faverie said.

Participants will also join the vast network of the Vital Voices community of more than 20,000 women, including Amanda Gorman, Lauder’s global changemaker.

The investment also comes as consumers expect more transparency from beauty brands about the causes they support. “When you look at customers around the world, especially younger customers today, there’s nothing more personal for them and more important for them than what you stand for as a brand,” de La Faverie said.

Added Alyse Nelson, president and chief executive officer of Vital Voices, via email, “Estée Lauder is a storied brand whose rich legacy in elevating and amplifying women leaders aligns perfectly with Vital Voices’ mission to identify emerging leaders with a bold vision for positive change, and provide them with the skills, network and resources they need to make that vision a reality.”


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