The business concept by women for women lately applied in the world of brands has been calling our attention. If on one hand we are living a chaotic situation, where feelings of radicalism and neglect seem to reign – and we are not speaking (only) of politics, on the other hand we have to value the openness we are experiencing regarding gender issues, representativeness and empowerment of different groups in society. It has been, is and will always be – as far as we are concerned – the time to open dialogue on inequalities and let them take center stage in the debate.
Data show that the female presence in leadership positions is still very limited, and not only in Brazil. In Standard and Poor’s 500 index, (stock market index that tracks 500 U.S. publicly traded companies), women make up only 6.2% of all CEOs. Moreover, they face a lack of diversity in the types of businesses developed. A GEM survey, conducted by Sebrae in 2020, shows that women entrepreneurs work mainly in 6 segments – among them food, beauty and clothing. Whereas among men, this figure rises to 14.
And what can we say about women’s self-esteem? A study conducted by Kantar (WPP) in 2019 in the UK, called What women want, revealed that 85% think film and advertising misrepresent the real women, leading two-thirds of them to skip ads that negatively stereotype them. The same survey conducted in 2021 with Latin women points out that only 25% of them feel comfortable and free to make decisions concerning their body and sexuality, showing that there is still a lot to be done by brands in terms of representation.
Knowing that there is still a long way to go, but looking again at the bright side of this discussion, we searched for references from brands and organizations headed by women who are turning the tide.
The first is a list compiled by Obvious Agency, which in itself is an inspiration, given the revolutionary way it builds content about and for women (it approaches everything: women’s rights, motherhood, self-care, sex, career, self-esteem, relationship, culture, trends). Obvious shared a list of six small businesses created by Brazilian women and how their brands transmit positive and affirmative messages. Take a look, it’s well worth it!
Another amazing example is that of the consulting company Filhos no Currículo, which invites companies to rethink working relationships and deconstruct biases about fathers and mothers. The initiative arose when Michelle Terni and Camila Antunes, the two founders, became mothers and were faced with a hostile labor market for those seeking to balance work and family life.
In the United States, the emergence of brands led by women in the category of alcoholic beverages, a sector traditionally taken by men and thought for men, is remarkably interesting. Actress Eva Longoria launched her own tequila brand last year – Casa del Sol – inspired by the goddess of agave, Mayahuel. Yola Mezcal also represents this trend: the openly feminist brand, founded and managed by 3 women, seeks to promote autonomy for its female partners who grow agave and produce the drink in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. Stepping further, the brand promoted Yola día, an “all-female” music festival, completely run by women: on stage, behind bar counters, and even working as security guards.
Women in power pull other women, creating a virtuous circle, as the numbers prove: a survey by the Women Entrepreneur Network Institute IRME 2021 states that 73% of women-led businesses are overwhelmingly female. Moreover, in this article of Endeavor we can see the direct impact that a leader like Luiza Trajano has on an ecosystem made up of hundreds of women, through her actions as an entrepreneur, mentor, investor and inspirer.
There is also a growing and powerful movement when it comes to deconstructing the menstruation taboo. An example of awareness campaign here in Brazil is the #ChegadeEstigma, by Intimus – Kimberly-Clark®’s brand of feminine care. “The campaign challenges society to break paradigms and negative perceptions about menstruation, which usually place women in a fragile and limited situation”, explains the brand’s Marketing Director Samia Chehab. “It is more and more my role to give voice and make room for these causes and also meet consumers’ current expectations about an active brand positioning in society”. Another woman, Thais Hamer, CBA B+G’s responsible for Intimus brand, shares Samia’s view: “the freedom I experience at work today and the purpose of the brands I assist, such as ‘Intimus’, in synergy with my values, fulfill me and motivate me to keep building a fairer world, where there’s room for all, men and women.”
And there is more! A recent collaboration of Pantone® with a Swedish brand of menstrual cups has resulted in the red hue Period, in a campaign to promote menstrual positivity, encouraging people, regardless of gender, to feel comfortable and at ease to discuss and normalize the topic.
Transcending business, the role of women in this pandemic must be highlighted. On the one hand, it is sad to see that the female entrepreneurs were the most impacted during this period, since they have to cope with double shifts – at home and at work. On the other hand, it is worth remembering that, from the 12 countries that have better coped with the pandemic, nine are governed by women. The positive role that the feminine view and handling can play in the leading of possible solutions with respect to the pandemic scenario, becomes clear.
Speaking of view, what do we see when we look inside? How are we behaving, in our CBA B+G community, towards women? From which stance are we discussing this struggle for social change and evolution?
Women are nothing short than 65% of our total workforce, and they hold more than half of the managerial positions (54%). Considering this large representation, simple but impacting initiatives have been sought and implemented. We have introduced, since 2019, an internal policy aimed at mothers, aware of the fact that during the first year of maternity it is hard for them to balance the roles played in their family, social and business life. In addition to the 4-month maternity leave secured by law, a short-time and gradually restored work schedule – in a home-office regime – allows mothers to resume the regular work activities 12 months after giving birth.
Working on the assumption that we are all exposed to structural contamination, gender issues are being closely observed, beyond the figures. As for example at the Board of Directors, where only one of the four positions is held by a woman. “Balance is the key-word”, says Shirley Rodrigues, HR manager. “The search for equity is one of the reasons for the internal study we are conducting to understand, historically, how our recruiting process and career development program have been driven, so that we are able to realize, in the course of time, if we are promoting gender equality, for example. And if not, what are the factors that cause this imbalance, in spite of our mostly feminine management environment – which has an active voice concerning promotions and bonuses. We want to understand which causes are structural – and therefore invisible to the arguments; which are cultural – and must be reviewed; and finally which are contextual and temporary… an on-going analysis and adjustment motion which, in spite of the two decades of operation, we are examining in-depth for the first time.”
From brands to products, personal stories to social policies, across countries and continents, and in all spheres, women carry the power of change in a world that longs for balance through pro-women solutions. Finally, we would like to indulge with a time capsule, recalling now and forever, some of the icons of feminism. To print and fix on your fuchsia, cyan, black, period – or whatever color you please – wall!