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Self-esteem, skills and inclusive education to empower the next generation


On International Women’s Day, we look at the different ways Dove, SheaMoisture and Dermalogica are leveraging their brand purpose to promote equity for women and girls.

Two women working together at a desk, researching online and making notes

In 2022, there were more CEOs named John in the FTSE 250 than women CEOs. The good news is that in 2023 the proportion of women in board roles in the UK’s biggest companies has risen above 40% for the first time, with only ten companies in the FTSE 350 having all-male executive teams.

At Unilever we are proud to have achieved 50:50 gender balance in managerial roles across our global business since 2020, with 54% women at present . But we also know, there is more work to be done.

Equality isn’t equal, #EquityIs

The theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is #EmbraceEquity, recognising equity’s part in addressing inequalities that limit access to better health, education and economic opportunity.

As a business we will be asking our ED&I champions to activate discussions about equity in their markets to understand what is needed to level the playing field and what solutions can contribute to a more equitable workplace for women.

We’re also taking the opportunity to celebrate and highlight work done by our brands in this space. Here are three impact programmes from Dove, SheaMoisture and Dermalogica that are working to progress equity for women today and for generations to come.

Dove’s Self-Esteem Youth Board who add voices to body image issues
Members of the Dove Self Esteem Project's Youth Board are drawn from all five continents to add their voices to body image issues

Dove’s tools and voices to transform attitudes

Unrealistic beauty ideals, appearance pressures and negative body image, are global issues that contribute to negative self-esteem and stop young women from participating fully in life. In fact, Dove’s new report on the real cost of beauty reveals just how big an impact it makes.

Since 2004 the Dove Self-Esteem Programme (DSEP) has worked to equip young people with protective skills so that they can confidently stand up to these pressures, using education programmes and tools such as a confidence kit of tips and conversation-starters on body confidence for parents and educators.

So far DSEP has reached more than 94 million people. Now it’s aiming to help 250 million young people build body confidence by 2030. And as part of this commitment a Dove Youth Board of over 15 young leaders, representing five continents, will use their voices to challenge the state of body image in society today and help shape DSEP to:

  • Empower women and girls
  • Promote body confidence, education and advocacy
  • Raise awareness of appearance-based discrimination such as colourism, sizeism and hair discrimination
  • Take action to tackle social media’s impact on body image.

Find out more about the DSEP Youth Board and all the DSEP programmes and materials, including the brand’s Roblox game Super U story, created by the female-founded game developers Toya, body image experts and psychologists.

SheaMoisture’s scholarships with impact 

SheaMoisture was created by Sofi Tucker, a pioneering and entrepreneurial mother of four who sold Shea Butter, African Black Soap and home-made beauty preparations in Sierra Leone in 1912.

In honour of the brand’s entrepreneurial heritage, SheaMoisture partnered with Girls with Impact (GWI) for their 100K Black Women initiative to create young Black women entrepreneurs and leaders between 14 and 24 years of age.

Developed by Harvard leaders and delivered online,GWI’s 10-week ‘mini MBA’ Academy programme teaches youngentrepreneurs the fundamentals of business and leadership.

At the end of the programme, each participant graduates with a business plan and venture pitch. “This initiative and training furthers our brand’s longstanding commitment to close the racial wealth gap by supporting the next generation of Black entrepreneurs,” says Cara Sabin, CEO of SheaMoisture’s parent company Sundial Brands and of Beauty & Wellbeing for Unilever North America.

In its first year of partnership, SheaMoisture helped to develop and train 1,500 Black women leaders. SheaMoisture is continuing to partner with GWI to scale upits impact by 2032.

Find out how to apply for a FREE scholarship here

The 2022 graduates of SheaMoisture and Girls with Impact’s Mini MBA
A group of young female entrepreneurs who graduated from SheaMoisture and Girls with Impact’s Mini MBA in 2022

Dermalogica’s courses to ensure confident treatment of all skin tones 

For more than 30 years, Dermalogica has been dedicated to delivering skin health results through market-leading skin treatment education. So, when the brand spotted a learning gap in the profession’s skincare training curriculum, it set about changing it.

Melanin-rich skin tones are under-represented in the training currently available. There is a knowledge gap that can lead to inequalities in patient care from the initial consultations through to treatments.

Understanding the complexities of melanin-rich skin is both a science and an art.

Dr Alexis Stephens, course consultant for the new training programme
Young woman with melanin-rich skin undergoing a beauty treatment from a Dermalogica skincare professional
Melanin-rich skin tones are under-represented in training currently available for skincare professionals, so Dermalogica has made the course available to all professional therapists in the industry

‘Treating Melanin-Rich Skin’ is a free three-module training course curated by Dermalogica and available on the brand’s training site to all professional therapists in the industry. It comprises three self-led modules that explore how melanin affects skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation, looks at services such as chemical peels and details precautions and contra-indications.

The course is available in seven languages and therapists can print a certificate after completion of all three modules. “Understanding the complexities of melanin-rich skin is both a science and an art,” course consultant Dr Alexis Stephens told European Spa Magazine. “This is a much-needed course and a massive step in the right direction in bridging the gap in skin exclusivity,” she adds.

Access course materials here

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