Victoria’s Secret is taking its transformation efforts seriously.
Earlier this month, the lingerie and beauty retailer quietly released its first environmental, social and corporate governance, or ESG, report, outlining never-before-seen statistics on company gender and ethnic makeup, among other things.
“This first ESG report for our company isn’t about declaring that we have it all figured out — quite the opposite,” Martin Waters, chief executive officer of Victoria’s Secret & Co., said in the report. “It’s an acknowledgement of the work that lies ahead of us, a transparent look into where we are today and a nod to where we’re headed.
“In 2021, we set out to transform our business and embarked on a journey as a new, stand-alone public company,” he continued. “In doing so, we knew we had to prove that we could be a viable and profitable company and that we could, once again, be a standard-setter in our industry. We recognize that this will require not simply an evolution of our business, but a revolution, driven by a vision to apply the lessons we have taken to heart in recent years to become the world’s leading advocate for women.”
At a glance, the report shows that women make up the majority of associates at all levels of the company, including 87 percent company-wide and 86 percent of the board. Women also make up 59 percent director and above roles, 95 percent of in-store associates and 57 percent of distribution center associates.
The report also outlined the number of people of color in the company (60 percent total). People of color also make up the majority of in-store and distribution center associates, 65 percent and 71 percent, respectively.
While people of color make up nearly half of the board’s members (43 percent), then numbers are lagging in positions at the director and above level. Just 16 percent of the company’s employees at the director-and-above level are people of color. Women of color occupy even fewer of these leadership positions, at just 8 percent.
“To strengthen our workforce and better reflect and serve our customers, it’s critical that we have diverse voices at the table,” the report said. “We are committed to retaining more diverse associates, attracting more diverse talent and empowering the growth and advancement of all our associates. We recognize that we have an opportunity to increase our diverse workforce and leadership representation, particularly by closing the gap in our home office and director-and-above roles.”
Just how the company plans to do that is unclear. But Waters added in the report that, “This has been, and will continue to be, an ongoing process of listening, learning and challenging ourselves to improve and to build trust with our stakeholders, starting with our inspiring customers and the dedicated associates who are committed to serving them every day.”
The report also said that according to a “2021 internal review,” in partnership with the nonprofit Fair Pay Workplace, Victoria’s Secret found that 99 percent of its workforce was paid equitably. “For the remaining 1 percent, we have made adjustments to processes and compensation to address inconsistencies.”
Other recent updates included enhanced governance for Victoria’s Secret’s Global Ethics & Compliance Program, which includes revised photo-shoot procedures in an effort to protect models and other on-set workers. The retailer also created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion council, co-led by Chief Diversity Officer Lydia Smith and Chief Human Resource Officer Laura Miller, which sets company DEI strategy and goals. Additional employee benefits include enhanced maternity leave, child care services and fertility services.
On the sustainability front, Victoria’s Secret reported sourcing 24 percent of its polyester and 11 percent of polyamide from recycled materials. The company set a target to only use chemicals that are 100 percent certified on the Manufacturing Restricted Substance List for its core lingerie and apparel suppliers by 2030.
In the beauty division, Victoria’s Secret said it continues to oppose animal testing and that no branded products, formulations or ingredients are tested on animals.
Victoria’s Secret is also investing in its community. The Victoria’s Secret & Co. Foundation committed $10 million last year to such causes as the Stella McCartney Cares Foundation, research group Pelotonia and Victoria’s Secret’s Global Fund for Women’s Cancers and the Pink With Purpose scholarship. The company plans to contribute roughly $50 million over the next five years to charities that promote women’s health and leadership. Most recently, Victoria’s Secret invested $7 million into women-founded and led businesses.
“While I’m proud of our progress in a relatively short time as a public company, we know we are just getting started,” Waters said in the report. “We are tackling this work consciously and are focusing our efforts on how we can best support our associates, customers, shareholders and the planet. Above all, one thing you can expect from me — and all of us at Victoria’s Secret & Co. — is radical transparency and a commitment to always do better.”