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Inside The 2021 CEW Women’s Leadership Awards

L'Oréal USA CEO Stéphane Rinderknech and Badger & Winters partner Madonna Badger were among those honored at the virtual ceremony.

CEW’s Women Leadership Awards took a content-oriented pivot in their second digital iteration.

The annual Women’s Leadership Awards took place virtually on Thursday, following remarks from CEW chairwoman Jill Scalamandre and P&G Beauty chief executive officer Alex Keith, the first honoree stepped up to the plate.

Honored with the Corporate Empowerment for Women (C.E.W.) Award was Stéphane Rinderknech, the president and chief executive officer of L’Oréal USA.

Under Rinderknech’s stewardship, the U.S. subsidiary of the world’s largest beauty manufacturer has had the highest level of gender equity, noted CEW president Carlotta Jacobson.

As previously reported by WWD, L’Oréal USA’s workforce is over 70 percent female, and it recently became the first company ever to receive the EdgePlus Certification, which quantifies intersectional equity.

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So much has changed, yet I think not enough has changed in some important ways. One thing that will never change is L’Oréal’s commitment to women, and bringing gender equity and balance to every corner of our organization. What does progress look like, what do we mean by it? We aim to set a best-in-class example for our industry, such as key leadership positions, and it means women are paid equitably,” Rinderknech said.

Next to be honored was Madonna Badger, who took home the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

After suffering an unimaginable loss she dedicated her life to how women are represented by her clients. Madonna’s Women, Not Objects campaign transformed how women are portrayed in advertising,” Jacobson said.

Between videos of past and present work from Badger, the advertising executive said her personal tragedies inspired her to affect change in advertising and the world over.

I wanted to do work that would change the world, I wanted to do something that sparked change,” Badger said. “David Ogilvy once said advertising was only evil when it did evil things. I was pleased that I could find work that mattered, and that pushed people to see the world differently. All of us have the power to change the world.”

Next, the Achievement Award recipients were honored, first with a video from former Allure editor in chief Linda Wells.

When accepting her award, Monica Arnaudo, chief merchandising officer at Ulta Beauty, credited her work for the retailer as “the pinnacle of my career.”

“What I love most about our industry is the opportunity to make an impact every single day with guests and team members to bring joy, confidence, inclusivity, kindness and endless possibilities,” she said.

Sharing her sentiments were fellow recipient Gail Boyé, whose corporate work at Shiseido has been activated by purpose. “Being a part of Shiseido has really allowed me to take part in meaningful missions with impact, from sustainability to clean formulations and ultimately to making beauty innovations for a better world.”

Lela Coffey, vice president of hair care and multicultural beauty at P&G Beauty, also added the importance of the industry’s impact. “This industry sets the standards and the norms and tone for so many others,” she said. “It’s our responsibility to ensure we are tilting it toward the positive and creating good for all.”

Encouraging as ever, Cara Sabin, CEO of Sundial Brands, also issued a call to action. “The industry has not always felt inclusive or welcoming to Black people like me, so this feels like a full circle moment,” she said. “The big corporations, private equity groups, retailers, accelerate your support and investment in Black-owned brands.”

Another recipient described their honoring as full-circle. “People didn’t want to wear sunscreen back in 2003 and ingredients were not clean,” said Holly Thaggard, founder of Supergoop! “I became obsessed with creating a category that didn’t exist. I knew I could carve out a place in this incredible industry, and me being there today is proof that it happened,” she said.

Lisa Sequino, a cosmetic executive, also gave credit to her family and “incredible mentors” for leading her by example.

Recounting her own journey into beauty, JuE Wong, CEO of Olaplex, found her way to running a top hair care brand after her time as a trader. “I hope my journey is an inspiration to anyone that when life throws you a curveball, see it as an opportunity,” she said.

Following a networking session and a Q&A with Julia Haart of Elite World Group, the organization honored its Emerging Leader Honorees, who included Muffy Clince, director of emerging brands, Ulta Beauty; Monique Davis, vice president, local & cultural innovation, The Estée Lauder Cos.; Erin Goldson, brand leader, Dove, masterbrand engagement and hair innovation, Unilever; Cara Kamenev, vice president of brand engagement, L’Oréal Paris; Linette Kim, vice president, consumer engagement, Bliss; Ashley Kuhn, Ph.D., director, responsible sourcing, global beauty purchases, P&G Beauty; and Jennifer Lucchese, vice president of merchandising, hair care at Sephora.

For more from WWD.com, see:

Brooke Shields, CEW Announce Beauty Creator Awards Finalists

Ulta Beauty CEO Dave Kimbell Outlines His Strategic Vision

Inside the CEW 2020 Beauty Awards