Beauty Inc: After the events of last year with so many women exiting the workforce and the inequity of the landscape, what are actions that you’re taking to make sure women thrive in your environment?
JuE Wong: The awareness has been really strong, given what’s happening and statistics show that women are at a strong disadvantage. So what we have been able to do is actually continue the work we started with. When we first started, we have always been mindful of the professional community we serve. The Professional Beauty Association documents that 80 percent of hair stylists are women, and 41 percent are minorities. Over time, we have always been very focused on women and our community. As a team at all times, we actually reflect and mirror back the community we serve. We were able to quantify that 77 percent of our employees are women, and 41 percent are minorities. We really mirror the community that we serve, and I find that as long as we continue on this path, and being mindful at all times of equality, we will continue to champion the gender representation, the ethnicity representation, and we will do right by all.
Beauty Inc: Throughout your career, what’s been most effective for you in making sure your voice has been heard?
J.W.: I actually learned the hard way. As you can imagine, I’m one of those extroverts that taught people, and over time I realized that how I can get my voice heard is actually listening. Very early on in my career, I was fortunate enough that I had somebody that I really looked up to and we will have periodic conversations. She told me, ‘JuE, you’re so quick to answer. Sometimes, people wonder whether you are actually listening to them,’ and it gave me pause. From then on, what I have done is tried to listen more first, and when I listen, I’m able to answer the question by making sure that I’m addressing what the speaker I’m talking to is saying, and give them my answers. I find that people give me a chance to speak up and listen to my point of view.
Beauty Inc: The last 18 months have brought so much change — what has been the biggest impact in how you approach your business?
J.W.: What the last 18 months taught me is where we prioritize. I find that yes, business is always important because we are a business, but a business without people is not going to do anything right. It’s going to be short term. During this COVID[-19] period, what I realized was prioritizing our team, making sure that we do well, but also do good, was just such an important platform for us to hone in on. The dividends we got from this goodwill we built out is going to be much longer.
To give you a specific example, when we say we prioritize our people, we decided very early on that we could help our team members that needed child care. We help them in getting outside the home, if they needed to. When we started doing that and really was able to have Human Resources let people know that this is not charity, that it helps us as much because it helps them be productive, it became a matter of pride for us and the company to do so. Nobody felt that we were doing them a favor, and everyone took advantage of this without feeling beholden to the company.
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