Introducing Equality Ethel--Buy Up's New Spokeswoman

Sure, we all want our hair to look good, and ads tell us certain products will make our tresses shine and bounce.  Besides having lovely locks, don't we want the women--and people--who work for the companies have family friendly workplaces with parental leave, flex-time, on-site daycare, etc etc.  

If you want to shop with a gender equality lens, download Buy Up Index today.  We'll show you which brands serve women.  That will REALLY make you look awesome.

Report on Women in the Beverage Sector


by Amy-Willard Cross

The most famous woman in the beverage business, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, is well-known for her public statements decrying the possibility of "having it all." Despite that, Nooyi is called the third most powerful woman in American business - and is certainly one of the most visible.

"You know, stay-at-home mothering was a full-time job. Being a CEO for a company is three full-time jobs rolled into one. How can you do justice to all? You can't," she said at a conference last year. As one of only two female CEOs of the 14 beverage companies surveyed (the other is Jennifer Cue of Jones Soda, an operation based out of Seattle with a market cap of $15 million), Nooyi, running the second-largest food and beverage company in the world, is in a position to influence the industry as a whole - influence that it could use.

With few exceptions, the beverage industry at large is not very public about promoting and retaining women. Certainly, it's hard to retain women until they reach leadership age if they leave during the childbearing years. Of the 14 companies, only three publicly disclosed that they offered paid maternity leave, and only Kraft, Nestlé, and Unilever provided any more details. Indeed, Nestlé made big news this year announcing its ground-breaking global family policies that grant 14 paid weeks leave to any parent or for adoptions. Those employees are also able to take an additional six months off.

The industry's lack of high-profile women, suggests Mike Weinstein, former CEO of Snapple and chairman of Inov8 Beverage Company, could stem from the fact that beverage bottling was traditionally a male-dominated, blue-collar job.

PepsiCo offers adoption assistance and help with child and elder care, but the details of its support programs are unclear. Meanwhile, in 2007, soda rival The Coca Cola Company launched a Women's Leadership Council, dedicated to recruiting and developing a pipeline of female leaders. The Council later promoted variable work hours throughout the company, recognizing that without flexible working arrangements, it will be a challenge to retain its female talent. Unilever has also started an agile work force, which means working "anywhere, anytime."

The beverage industry fares better with board membership: only two companies lack any women on their board, and all but three have proportions that top the Fortune 500 average of 16 percent. Unilever, Dr. Pepper, and Campbell Soup Company lead the pack, with 33 to 36 percent apiece. While you may see a few women on the boards of beverage companies, the numbers of women in the executive suite are often much less: six of these companies had fewer than the Fortune 500 Average. Indeed, four had no women among the top highest paid executives.

As for women managers, Kraft, Unilever and Starbucks percentages all exceed the average of 40 percent. However, the recent merger of Kraft and Heinz significantly decreased the number of women in executive positions, and it remains to be seen how the conglomerate's shift in management will impact the brand's woman-friendliness.

"Any company with half a brain in 2014 is thinking about women and minorities," said Weinstein. "I guarantee you, every single one of them has metrics in the human resources department. Everyone would like to have more women and more minorities, but there's a limited force out there, so the good people get bid up."


When it comes to doing good, the big beverage companies are acting globally. Some, notably The Coca Cola Company, have made women the rpiece of their corporate social responsibility. Coca Cola's 5by20 initiative aims to empower five million women "across the value chain," from farmers to suppliers to retailers. Unilever has partnered with the World Food Program to fund Project Laser Beam, which helps women farmers have access to seeds, fertilizer, and loan credits. Nestlé helps female farmers access markets in India and Morocco and assists women entrepreneurs in starting and operating their own businesses, including Nescafé street carts, across Africa and the Caribbean, and in Brazil and Thailand. The company contributed $10 million in 2013 to UN-affiliated Every Woman Every Child, which funded·17 women's economic empowerment programs in 20 countries. Starbucks's Teavana Chai has raised $5 million, some of which goes to Girls, Inc. Campbell Soup Company has an innovative program, Camp Campbell, which has eight chapters and connects young change-making women outside their company with powerful women within, including the CEO.

Back at home, beverage companies have typically approached women with diet products on the assumption that "women are watching their weight and guys have beer bellies," as Weinstein put it. "There's been a lot of research that if you put the word 'diet' on a product, it skews female."

So much so that when Dr. Pepper released its low-calorie "Ten" soda, it had to warn the ladies explicitly to stay away. During televised sporting events, it ran an ad combining every cliché of machismo, which culminated with the admonition, "It's not for women." According to Weinstein, historically, soda drinkers are 55 percent male, although women purchase about 60 percent of beverages for households.

That's just one of the beverage industry’s many missteps with consumers, which largely center around ill-conceived or misleading marketing efforts. In 2011, Jones Soda Co. launched an ad featuring a golliwog and a coolie.

When it comes to advertising, the more established food brands tend to stick to neutral depictions of women and family. Folgers stands out for its imagery of care-taking dads and husbands who make breakfast. Ads for coffee and tea are quite harmless and only need show a hand holding a cup to remind viewers of the pleasure inside. But Dr. Pepper ads objectify men on one hand, then depict stereotype-busting women boxer and roller derby-ists on the other. Likewise, Mountain Dew has been faulted for violent ads in the past, whereas the affiliated Gatorade brand promotes girl athletes. Even as one of the newer companies in the sector, Starbucks shows women in many different positive variations: a mom being her own mechanic, a woman solo camping, or girls skateboarding.

Marketing can be a weak spot: V8's fruit juice beverages, owned by Campbell Soup Company, have come under fire from consumer groups for their deceptive labels, which bill the sugary drinks as healthy and antioxidant-laden. Yet, beverage companies are coming under fire for health and environmental reasons. Bottled water companies have come under fire for millions of discarded plastic bottles and profiting from public-owned supplies of water. Many of the industry are also embattled by the anti-GMO movement and fight back with expensive lobbying campaigns, which put them in some consumers' bad books.

As more and more consumers move away from sugary drinks, some successful woman-owned companies, such as Dry Soda and Hint Water, are stepping in to serve up something healthier. Rest assured, their leadership scores are high.

DOWNLOAD THE BUY UP INDEX app now and see how your favorite brands score.

An earlier version of this story can be seen on VITAMIN W.

image by Michael Comeau via flickr under a creative commons license.

BUY UP INDEX REPORT: The Beauty Business and Women

Beauty started with Aphrodite. Ever since the appearance of the goddess, 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 that many when you consider 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, Coty lacks even a single woman on its board and executive committee. Overall, however, two-thirds of the 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: Unilever’s board is 36 percent female, as is 42 percent of its managers. P&G has a 45 percent female board, and 38 percent of its managers are women. But the company will soon be passing on its beauty brands to Coty with a very different landscape.


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.

Working at a beauty company undoubtedly has its perks, such as free makeup or shampoo, but treating female employees well takes more than a cosmetic effort. Several companies go above and beyond to create a more inclusive workforce, offering access to childcare, on-ramping for recent mothers who have taken time off, and flextime. At Unilever, 73 percent of employees compress their work week.

Johnson & Johnson, Avon, and L’Oreal stand out. Johnson & Johnson provides discounted tutoring for employees’ children, access to childcare resources,and counts 95 percent of employees using flextime or telecommuting. Both companies devote resources to diversity, beyond reporting employee and supplier statistics: Avon through company-wide affinity groups for minorities, and J&J through "Diversity University," an online program.

In April 2015, J&J announced an important revision to its maternity leave, now offering 17 paid weeks. The leave doesn’t have to be taken consecutively, and will be retroactive to parents who welcomed a child after May 2014.

Avon’s Phase Back to Work program helps transition new moms back to the workplace, and the company offers paid time off for adoptive parents, as well as a $10,000 adoption reimbursement. L’Oreal has announced the unprecedented Share & Care Program, which seeks to align local economic performance with economic performance globally. By the end of 2015, L’Oreal employees in 68 countries will have health insurance, death or disability benefits of two years of salary, and 14 weeks maternity leave. Shiseido, by contrast, offers just two weeks for both moms and dads.

Serious about female leadership, several companies in the industry track the percentage of women managers: many go way above the average of 40 percent, such as Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, and LVMH. When companies make a concerted effort to keep women in the pipeline, the results can show at the top.


Based on our scoring of advertising, product toxicity, and corporate philanthropy, beauty companies by and large do know how to treat a lady. Just about every beauty company has Corporate Citizenship that benefits women. Nearly all surveyed companies scored well on advertising, showing women engaged in activities outside the mom sphere and featuring models of color. A few even dared to be funny. Procter & Gamble wins for the most stereotype breaking ads - which could relate to the company’s overall high score. Revlon photographed Laverne Cox from "Orange is the New Black," a feat only preceded by MAC’s connection with RuPaul. A few dared sell pretty with humor - Jennifer Aniston mugs for J&J’s Aveeno and Tina Fey for L’Oreal’s Garnier.

The beauty industry does have its ugly side. Of the 14 companies we rated, only Avon, Johnson & Johnson, and Natura Cosmetics scored well on avoiding potentially harmful chemicals, while the others - Procter & Gamble and Elizabeth Arden, in particular - push products containing ingredients that have been singled out by consumer groups for removal (check the SkinDeep database for details). **

Because beauty companies target mostly female consumers, so do many of their philanthropic and corporate social responsibility endeavors. Revlon, Avon, and Estée Lauder all have high-profile initiatives around fighting breast cancer. Although lacking in female leadership, Coty made news last year by announcing its new focus on mental health. CMO Jill Scalamandre stated that the Philosophy brand will contribute 1 percent of every product sold to local organizations working around women's mental health and well-being. The goal is to raise $2 million by the end of 2015 and $15 million over five years. Avon is one of those rare companies that support efforts against the very ugly issue of domestic violence. MAC Cosmetics (the wild child in the Estee Lauder family) has been a leader in CSR, devoting all the profits of VIVA Glam lipstick to HIV and AIDS initiatives. In over 20 years, MAC has raised more than $250 million. (Compare that to Bobbi Brown, whose Pretty Powerful Campaign for girls donated just 1 cent from the sales of mascara with the retail price of $29.) Johnson & Johnson, the health and beauty conglomerate, supports multiple health-related projects, including many focusing on maternal and child health. L’Oreal has supported hundreds of female scientists through a fellowship program. Perhaps some of them are working on finding new, non-toxic ingredients for the cosmetics of the future?

As well as these majors, there are many women-owned cosmetic companies that take a small percentage of the market, such Jane Iredale or the new purse-sized Stowaway.


To learn more about how your favorite brands stack up, download the app on Apple’s store.

An earlier version of this story may be seen on VITAMIN W.

Buy Up Index: Big Companies Take Notice. Some Take Aim, Others Take a Bow

This week marks Buy Up Index’s arrival in the world. After well over a year of planning, creating a methodology, experiencing excruciating delays, and designing, researching, and developing the tech, we’re finally asking people to download the app. Buy Up Index is available at Apple’s App Store for free.

Women Shopping Ethically

by Amy-Willard Cross

The Body Shop’s Anita Roddick knew that you can do business better--give people what they want, make a profit and change the way things are done. Her success showed women wanted to buy cosmetics differently.  The legions of Body Shop’s fans cared less about the fancy packaging and advertising—and more about what was inside the jar. 
Roddick helped popularize the idea of ethical consumerism and sold her company for $1.4 billion by doing so. 
Nowadays, millenials and women might want to buy everything differently.  More people care more about what’s inside the product or behind it—whatever it might be.

Now that women’s economic power is so palpable, we’re seeing a rise in ethical consumerism.
Nearly 60% of Millennials say that a company’s ethics and practices factor into their purchasing decisions, according to Intelligence Group's Cassandra report.  MarketELLE’s study on brands that the ladies love and loathe says, “Women are more likely than men to be aware of and influenced by questionable company policies. Those policies not only impact their feelings about brands and companies, but often determine who they will (or won’t) do business with”. 

Many women care about what we buy and from whom we buy.  We research before shopping.  Millenials even research while they shop-and 50% use their phones to do so in store.  

There are many tools to help consumers with research before buying.  Beyond the well-known GoodGuide, or Think Dirty, which evaluates toxicity of personal care products.  The Human Rights Campaign Buyers Guide for Workplace Equality, was early to the party evaluating LGBT policies and is responsible for huge changes in policies.  Now there are certifications that assure customers that products were made without hurting bunnies, harming forests and marine life, or that they were produced using Fair Trade Principles all along the supply chain. 
This feeling of consumer activism is making companies pay attention. Some are cleaning up their supply chains, as Apple recently announced.   Clothing companies now hone and post their sweatshop policies—and neglect to do so at their peril. 

Brands now want to reach this generation of ethical consumers.  Realizing the power of good-vertising many companies are starting to find new ways to communicate: McDonalds is building apps about their ethical practices. Walmart has committed to buying $20 billion of women-sourced goods. Companies that communicate their good messages well will do better—and see have better sales.  Consumers will reward them with their allegiance. 
Buying ethically through a gender lens is starting with the investment community. There are new financial products from Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund, Morgan Stanley and Barclays.  Barclays “Women in Leadership” ETN actually came about as the company struggled to fix its own gender equality problems: three separate employees came up with the idea of creating a financial product built around gender equality.  Although some of these products might exceed typical returns, Barclay’s Meier told the Global Banking Alliance Summit, that many investors merely ask for returns that met the standard—they are willing to forego a few points to invest ethically in companies with female leadership.  Why would people miss out on a bit of profit?  As the line in the L’Oreal commercial said, “I’m worth it.”

There are more people who think like that.  Some 12 million millennials already shop ethically, add that to the 12 million people who support non-profits advancing women and you’ve got a lot of prosperous ethical consumers who want to know what’s inside the bottle—and are willing to read the label and make the right choice.  As the second L’Oreal tagline said, “Because you’re worth it.”
Amy-Willard Cross is the co-founder of The BUY UP Index and editor of VITAMIN W Media.  A longtime magazine editor and author, Cross was named for suffragist Frances Willard—a comrade of her great-grandmother’s.  Where Willard saw prohibition as a path to equality, Cross thinks prosperity could lead to parity—but wouldn’t deny any grown-up a glass of wine.