Beauty industry

Is the cosmetics industry sexist?

Just like in the fashion world, the beauty industry is embodied by female faces. [1]. Estée Lauder, Helena Rubinstein, Aliza Jabbès, Anick Goutal, Bobbi Brown, Huda Kattann, Rihanna, and many others … Women make decisions and drive trends for many brands. And yet, just like in the fashion world, the industrial part of the chain does not offer this equality. “The world of beauty is unique. There are a lot of women, but when you look at the top of the pyramid things are definitely not the same. Women are the bees,” Explain Aïmara Coupet, Marketing and Product Development Expert Consultant and founder of the Be + Radiance brand. “At my level, I don’t think it’s a handicap. But when I put forward my male shareholders, I feel that it has a reassuring impact. When it comes to managing, a woman is not as reassuring as a man,” she says.

Other leaders qualify these observations. “In fact, there is no equality. In terms of number of Directors, salary gap, mental burden … we are not equal,»Observes CEO of Cosmogen Priscille Caucé. “However, it is an extremely open world, even in industrial companies. It is true that the majority of directors are men, but women and diversity are valued. It’s not a narrow-minded or misogynistic world, it’s just still very masculine,” she explains.

Co-president of Livcer Aude of Livonnière shares the same opinion: “I don’t feel like I’ve had more difficulty than a man in my career. I am not sure there is a glass ceiling.” It is the same Isabelle Guyomarch, company director, president of the CCI Productions group, and founder of the Ozalys / Cancer Survivor laboratory: “I don’t think you can say it’s more difficult for a woman. I mean if you can do what they do you can do it», She specifies, widening the problem to the post of director.

Between convictions and sacrifices

Being a business owner usually means working twelve hours a day, plus weekends, sacrificing your private and family life, being able to get away from it all, etc. This is how you build your career. And what’s difficult for a woman is to make all these sacrifices: it’s both unnatural and societal tricky, and it’s not true for men. Careers and responsibilities are demanding, in terms of time, self-sacrifice and concern. You have to be able to handle everything,», Adds Isabelle Guyomarch.

In an industrial system historically created and led by men, women still have to make sacrifices they are not necessarily ready to make. And yet, as generations become more flexible with equity, the entrepreneurial model gradually evolves.

Yet there is this notion of gender preferences. “I think the industrial world is not immediately attractive to women. They tend to prefer creative professions. Things are changing, but the pool of women is much smaller than that of men, because women don’t go because they like it,», Estimates Aude de Livonnière. “Which women want to run an industrial company? It’s an interesting question, ”confirms Priscille Caucé. Moreover, here as elsewhere, women are said to be the first victims of their own lack of self-confidence. “To advance the cause, in general, there are actions to be taken on both sides. Men should promote change, and women should be daring,», Says Priscille Caucé. “Usually, men sell better than women. They dare, they believe they are legitimate from the start. On the contrary, women tend to have doubts, to feel the need to prove themselves before daring to ask for something. It can be a real brake on a career,», Specifies the director of Livcer.

Parity at all costs?

In unison, they confirm that in order to evolve, the cosmetics industry has everything to gain from a more feminine managerial environment. “Women have this ability to manage their femininity and motherhood, which causes them to adopt a different management style as a leader – they are often more caring. Barack Obama said that if every state was ruled for ten years by a woman, societies would really change,»Declares Isabelle Guyomarch, founder – among others – of Ozalys, a dermocosmetics brand dedicated to women with breast cancer.

And yet, the quotas imposed must not take precedence over the recognition of skills. “It is an equity risk. Things can be turned around: sometimes we don’t pay enough attention to merit. For example, when Sue Y. Nabi was appointed head of Coty, it was not to create a buzz, as was often said, but because her great skills were recognized,», Proclaims Aïmara Coupet. “Parity on the board has sparked a wave in large companies. You have to have constraints, because things change very slowly. But I don’t want a woman’s professional success to be tied to a law, it must be due to her abilities and skills,», Explains Priscille Caucé.

In the world of tomorrow

Obviously, the French beauty industry has not yet really achieved diversity. “Some people want to, but they haven’t yet,»According to Aïmara Coupet. “People want progress, but we’re not there yet,», Observes Isabelle Guyomarch. “There are reasons to be optimistic, but there is still a long way to go,», Says Priscille Caucé. “It’s still quite stereotypical»According to Aude de Livonnière.

Without pointing the finger at other responsible factors than industry codes and entrenched mentalities on both sides, the executives we interviewed want the situation to evolve more quickly. But what do men think?

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