Best Beauty Companies for Women: Leadership

VITAMIN W has completed a study on the beauty sector which is presented in three parts. Please also see "Best Beauty Companies for Women: Leadership," and "Best Beauty Companies for Women: Employees." This work is part of a larger research project analyzing how companies serve women as consumers, leaders, and employees. The full methodology and results of the study will be available later this summer. Sign up to get the info first.

By Anna Louie Sussman 

Historically, leadership in the beauty sector has had a female face: founders and executives such as Mary Kay Ash of the namesake brand; Florence Nightingale Graham, founder of Elizabeth Arden; Avon’s former CEO, Andrea Jung; and icons like Estee Lauder and Helena Rubinstein. Today, however, only one Fortune 500 beauty and consumer goods company, Avon, is helmed by a woman, Sheri McCoy. Not a lot when you consider that the industry as a whole employs 8.2 million people. 

Avon is also the only company we surveyed with a majority-female board. At the other end of the spectrum, KAO Corporation, a Tokyo-based company that owns popular lines such as Biore, John Frieda, Molton Brown, and Jergens, lacks even a single woman on its board and its executive committee. Two-thirds of the 14 beauty companies beat the Fortune 1000 average of 16.6 percent female board membership.

Consumer goods conglomerates Procter & Gamble and Unilever both boast programs aimed at advancing women through the ranks, and have the results to show for it: P&G has a 45 percent female board, and 38 percent of its managers are women. Unilever’s board is 36 percent female, as is 42 percent of its managers.

Of course, programs and plans are not enough to keep women in the pipeline to upper level management. Company culture, leave policy, and flexibility are also important factors that ensure women succeed. Read more about how beauty companies treat women as employees and as consumers.


*companies with stars are ranked the highest

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Research by: Megan Black, Kimi Kellen, Padmini Parthasarathy, Elizabeth Stanton

Image: Library of Congress