Ever wondered why industries aimed at women are mainly run by men? No? Turns out a lot of women haven’t. And why aren’t we questioning it? Isn’t it odd that it is 2021, and all of the industries targeting women, shaping women’s beliefs, and their mental health - are still predominantly owned by men?
You might be asking yourself - is this actually an issue? Well in short, yes. Because there are some prolific issues that run through product creation, advertising, marketing, and the media portrayal of the skincare and beauty industry. Ultimately it's women who pay the price.
In this article, we discuss why the beauty industry is run by men, the potential issues that come with supporting an industry that doesn’t have women at its heart, and how you can help to support women and change the tide.
Why Is The Beauty Industry Owned By Men?
The beauty industry is owned by men due to a long history of patriarchy. Even though some would argue that patriarchy doesn't exist (and even that it’s a thing of the past) statistics show that patriarchy is very much still a thing of the present.
In 2020, the Fortune 500 got overly excited about a whopping 37 of their Fortune 500 companies being led by female CEOs. To put it into context, that figure would need to be at 250 for gender parity.
A gender and equity study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) called ‘Delivered By Women, Led By Men’ found that “occupational segregation by gender is deep and universal”. Concluding that men dominate senior roles which are higher status and paying. The research paper found that 80% of board chairs are held by men, and 69% of global health organizations are run by men. And according to the LedBetter database; women only take up 34% of board seats in personal care brands, and 24% of the executive team.
But why is there so much gender disparity behind businesses within beauty and skincare when they are mostly aimed at women?
Every conceivable industry was originally dominated by men (and most of them still are). The Suffragettes were formed in 1903, and women over 21 in the United Kingdom have only been able to vote since 1928. When you start looking at the key dates of female empowerment, and dates in history that have helped to transform and empower the rights of women. It becomes crystal clear that this is still such a fresh and ongoing journey. We have much to celebrate, and still so much to fight for.
It's no surprise that we are still ironing out patriarchy and its grips from our society. Women in the United States have only been able to open a bank account since the 1960s. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act in 1974 allowed single women and women in general, to obtain a credit card without having to have their husband’s signature and male authorization.
And many women around the world today do not have access to education, equal opportunities, and safety in the same way that their male counterparts do. Many women cannot travel on their own without men or without permission from male family members. It’s the 21st century and there are still countries in which women have zero human rights in comparison to men.
The disempowering effects of patriarchy are interwoven in order to protect males as the ruling species. With each piece of legislature or cultural norm acting as an invisible prison that upholds the next. Women do not have the same opportunities as men, in terms of education or careers in positions of power. And the lack of true progressive support and healthcare for women and mothers has meant that women struggle to get a career (or out of the house) full stop.
Even if women are lucky enough to obtain a decent education, they have glass ceilings to face at every step of their career in a man’s world. And the lack of societal awareness and support only feeds into a vicious cycle that benefits genders unfairly. Which is why it’s a better time than any, to begin your journey of shared self-empowerment and female empowerment.
How Does Gender Inequality In The Beauty And Skincare Industry Affect Women?
Not holding women at the heart of any industry that is aimed towards them is extremely dangerous for the physical, mental, and emotional health and safety of women and girls. Gender inequality within the beauty and skincare industry results in avoidable issues.
Young girls and women are shaped by the stimulus they receive from the outside world. It is imperative that the people designing the stimulus and shaping culture in the form of media, marketing, advertisements, and product formulations have a deep understanding and connection (through the personal experience) of what it is like to be a woman. This allows brands to proactively lift, protect, and support young girls and women, as opposed to disempowering them.
By allowing men to dominate and run industries that are not aimed at them we risk alienating women, and preventing their growth. Women already struggle with a variety of mental health issues and unhealthy habits such as poor body image, obsessive comparison, eating disorders, and imposter syndrome, to suicidal ideation.
The feedback and mental conditioning we absorb from culture and society can either be extremely positive and powerful, or stagnant and dangerous. And considering that women are already at a disadvantage, it’s safe to say that any industries aimed at women need to be under scrutiny to ensure they contribute to female freedom, as opposed to oppression.
Inclusive beauty that steers away from unrealistic and unattainable eurocentric ‘beauty standards’ is vital to build the self-esteem, self-confidence, self-acceptance and self-love of women and girls worldwide. And this is a movement best driven by those who it actually affects—women themselves.
One of the easiest ways to ensure we are actively dismantling oppressive systems which do not contribute to the uplifting of women (worldwide) is by placing women at the head and inside every single board room of businesses aimed at them.
How Does Gender Equality Help Businesses?
Having women on the boards of companies, and leading companies creates more efficient work forces. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that having women CEO’s improved staff performance and sales by up to 14%. And a study by Cloverpop on ‘inclusive decision making’ and business performance found that inclusive and diverse work teams ‘make better decisions’ 87% of the time. Cloverpop also found that gender diverse teams delivered 60% better results than male dominant teams.
What Are The Benefits Of Gender Equality?
There are endless benefits of gender equality, and specifically with having women in the workplace. The Victoria Government in Australia notes that the Australian gross domestic product would increase by 11% in the gender gap was closed in the workplace. The gross domestic product (GDP) of a country is the total market value of their services and goods.
Christine Lagarde also notes the economic benefits of gender parity in the workplace in her powerful; ‘Daring The Difference: The 3 L’s Of Women’s Empowerment’ speech to the International Monetary Fund. She notes that the International Monetary Fund has noted huge improvements in the economic wellbeing of countries when there are fewer gender gaps preventing the ability of women being able to participate economically.
Women-Owned Sustainable Beauty And Skincare Businesses To Support
There are loads of ways to support female empowerment, and choosing to buy from women-owned companies is one of them. Here are some sustainable beauty brands to support that are women-owned and heart-centered.
The reasons that men run the beauty industry are inexcusable, and we still have a long way to go to balance gender in the workplace. But we honor the women who have sacrificed their time for our empowerment, and have spoken on behalf of others - who may not have had a voice.
And in the honor of these loving, wild, and wise women, we encourage you to join the women’s empowerment movement by supporting the women around you however you can. Choosing to buy from women-owned brands is a great way to start.
Carmen Lee is a certified yoga teacher, childbirth doula, and wellness coach. She educates on womb wellness, sacred wisdom, and ancestral-connected living. You’ll find her passionately advocating radical self-care and transformational self-empowerment through sustainable beauty and self-love rituals.
Some of the products promoted in our blog are from our online store. Many others are brands we have researched and found to be great examples of sustainable, ethical, and innovative brands in their field, and we don't make any profit from mentioning them in our blog. #CollaborationOverCompetition