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Estée Lauder Says It Will Hire More Black Employees Over Next Five Years

Lauder aims to achieve U.S. parity for black employees across all levels of its business in the next five years, according to an internal memo.

The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. has sent an internal memo to staff qualifying commitments to black employees and outlining specific goals.

Among them are reaching U.S. population parity — around 13 percent — for black employees “for all levels” in the next five years; doubling sourcing from black-owned businesses over the next three years, and upping the company’s financial commitment to the black community from $1 million to $10 million.

The note came after employees called for the removal of Ronald Lauder, one of founder Estée Lauder’s sons, from the company’s board after he donated more than $1.75 million to support President Trump. The employee petition says Lauder’s donations stand in contrast to the company’s then-commitment to donate $1 million in the interests of the black community. “This total does not match, or exceed Ronald Lauder’s personal donations in support of state-sanctioned violence,” the petition said. In a follow-up letter, employees deemed Lauder’s statement published by WWD “not acceptable.” The petition has been signed more than 5,600 times.

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The memo to Lauder employees that was sent Monday night from William Lauder, executive chairman and nephew of Ronald, and Lauder president and chief executive officer Fabrizio Freda did not address the petition, but did reiterate support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We stand in solidarity with our black employees, black consumers and black communities and firmly believe black lives matter. We are committed to doing more as allies at our company, in our communities and throughout this country,” the memo read. “As promised, we are following up with the next steps we will be taking in the U.S. that have been informed by your invaluable feedback. Some of these actions will be immediate, others will take some time, but all will be impactful. A few of these actions are accelerations of programs that are already in place, while others are completely new and reflect our history of constant improvement.”

The plan is multipronged. Lauder plans to host a conversation series through town halls and one-on-one talks and ask for feedback through surveys, make unconscious bias training mandatory for all full-time U.S. employees, provide training around microaggressions, train point-of-sale employees to provide service to diverse consumers, and incorporate training about all hair types into Aveda and Bumble and bumble.

The business also plans to work more closely with its black employee resource group Noble and organize a company-wide day of solidarity that focuses on learning, action and service. The business also plans to provide semiannual updates on progress.

Lauder will also increase training initiatives for black employees, “hold managers accountable for employees’ growth and career mapping,” and make sure black candidates are identified on the succession list for all senior executive leadership level positions.

The organization said it would reach U.S. population parity of black employees in all levels in the next five years, and require that diverse candidates are considered in all executive director and above positions before a hiring decision is made. Lauder also intends to establish stronger partnerships with black organizations like the National Black MBA Association for recruiting, double diverse recruits in the next two years, make sure brand creative teams have black members, and make sure brands deliver products with broad shade ranges.

On the supplier end, Lauder said it will double the amount it spends on sourcing ingredients, packaging and supplies from black-owned businesses over the next three years.

Lauder also said it will increase financial donations to $10 million over the next three years to support racial and social justice and support access to education through the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Equal Justice Initiative and the Young Women’s Leadership Schools. Of the $10 million, $5 million will be donated over the next few weeks, and the other $5 million will be donated over the next two years.

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