Lancôme‘s Write Her Future scholarship fund has entered phase two with a freshly inked partnership.
The L’Oréal-owned brand is partnering with the NAACP to provide 30 grants of $10,000 to students starting college in the 2022 academic year.
“The DNA of what Lancôme is all about is really empowering women and having women feel happy. We do that through a number of different ways, but at the moment, we expect that our program will touch 1,500 women through the end of 2021,” said Stuart Leitch, president at Lancôme U.S., adding that it would affect over 10,000 students in the first year.
Leitch, who took the helm of the brand at the beginning of 2020, said the program has evolved with new focuses on key areas. “The way the program has evolved at this point is that specifically in the U.S., illiteracy is not the biggest issue we face, but it affects women more than men. As the program goes into phase two, it is really focused on education, entrepreneurship and on mentorship. Those are the three pillars of the program as we move forward.”
The partnership is working specifically with the NAACP’s ACT-SO (the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics), a yearlong program that over 10,000 students participate in before starting college. When Write Her Future initially launched in the U.S. in 2019, it initially partnered with ProLiteracy.
“We are thrilled to partner with Lancôme on the Write Her Future Scholarship Fund,” said NAACP president and chief executive officer Derrick Johnson in a statement. “As an organization dedicated to doing the work in our communities ourselves, we greatly appreciate Lancôme for consistently using their platform to enable change and influence. We look forward to witnessing these young women who have received mentoring opportunities and scholarships contribute to their communities and beyond.”
Lancôme’s decision to partner with the NAACP came from a deep dive into data around illiteracy, said Anncy Rowe, senior vice president of marketing at Lancôme U.S.
“When you think about literacy around the world and Lancôme’s mission, it’s all about having women get to this point of self-fulfillment, and education is so foundational,” Rowe said. “As we started looking at the statistics, when you look at reading scores, there is a gap between white versus Black students at 32 points. There is a gap in terms of white versus women of color actually moving on past high school into college. We, at Lancôme, believe that education is a great equalizer. We really wanted to help level the playing field and bring that equity to education.”
“We whittle our approach down from a bigger concept to holding ourselves very accountable, and seeing where we can put our action, where we can put our investments, and then also partnering with organizations to see if our ideas can be fulfilled,” Leitch added. “Then, it’s who is the best partner to make those ideas come to life. That’s how we arrived here.”
The executives said the brand’s diversity efforts extended internally, too. L’Oréal USA’s workforce is over 70 percent female, and over 38 percent people of color, according to a spokesperson. Exactly 50 percent of its management committee is female, as is over 60 percent of management.
“As a woman of color on Lancôme, it’s been so rewarding when you have a seat at the table. You can make change, like the Write Her Future program, and the pivot that we’re able to make. In terms of recruiting and the team’s like, diversity is obviously so important to us. So even diversity within our teams, of all, you know, shapes and forms is so critical,” Rowe said.
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