Sustainability is Beautiful

By Lezlee Westine
President & CEO, Personal Care Products Council (PCPC)

The world has changed dramatically since we published our first sustainability report in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic challenged all of us in unprecedented ways, and the events surrounding the tragic death of George Floyd in May 2020 and the subsequent protests have made diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) an even greater societal priority.

PCPC’s 2021 “Creating a More Beautiful World” sustainability report showcases the beauty and personal care industry’s continued commitment to the responsible management of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) impacts and highlights the innovative ways our member companies integrate sustainability into their business practices. 

Recognizing a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace fosters more innovation and creativity, less biased decision-making, and produces better ideas for solving problems, PCPC and many of our member companies initiated a variety of programs and approaches to improve employee recruitment and retention, and to address issues of racial disparities in leadership and pay. Currently, more than 75% of PCPC members have DEI policies and programs in place. Additionally, they work to develop products and services with more formula and shade diversity, as well as disability-inclusive packaging, to meet different needs.

I am incredibly proud of PCPC’s continued advocacy on behalf of our industry for the passage of the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act, legislation that aims to end race-based hair discrimination. PCPC also announced the first annual Madam C.J. Walker Award for Excellence in DEI in May 2021, recognizing individuals who demonstrate an outstanding commitment to DEI through strong leadership and sustained efforts with a focus on workplace culture, programs, and policies, or through external engagement with consumers and communities. Latriece Watkins of Walmart was our first recipient. Our second award presentation during PCPC’s Leadership Summit this past September brought industry together to celebrate Unilever’s Esi Eggleston Bracey.

These past few years have also called to light the pressing, complex and critical challenges facing our natural systems and the urgent need for us to take significant measures to protect our planet. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) state of global climate science publication issued a red alert for the planet. Climate action is a top priority for our member companies, and our sector has undertaken ambitious initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and transition toward a low carbon economy. Many PCPC member companies have also committed to zero waste in operations, including Beiersdorf, Burt’s Bees, Coty, Colgate-Palmolive, Henkel, Firmenich, International Flavors and Fragrance, L’Oréal, Procter and Gamble (P&G), Mary Kay, The Estée Lauder Companies and Unilever.

Several PCPC members are committed to the Global Commitment and Plastic Pact to make 100% of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, including Beiersdorf, Colgate-Palmolive, Henkel, Kimberly-Clark, L’Oréal, Johnson & Johnson, Natura, Reckitt Benckiser, The Clorox Company and Unilever. And many PCPC member companies and their brands offer consumers retail collection or mail-in take-back programs for empty packaging, including Aveda, Burt’s Bees, Colgate Oral Care, Dial, Head and Shoulders, Herbal Essence, Henkel, Garnier, Kiehl’s Since 1851, MAC Cosmetics, Origins, Pantene, Seed Phytonutrients and Tom’s of Maine.

PCPC members also support a wide range of corporate social responsibility programs to help make their communities better places to live, including flagship initiatives like PCPC’s Look Good Feel Better and many corporate programs: L’Oréal Fund for Nature Regeneration and the For Women in Science program; Dove’s Real Beauty campaign and its more recent project #ShowUs; M·A·C’s VIVA GLAM campaign; Vaseline’s See My Skin; LIFEBUOY’s global handwashing campaign; Schwarzkopf’s Million Chances; Colgate’s Bright Smile, Bright Future; P&G’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water; Always’ #LikeAGirl campaign; Gillette’s #TheBestMenCanBe; Coty’s long-standing partnership with DKMS, an international non-profit fighting blood cancer and blood disorders; Rodan + Fields’ Prescription for Change Foundation; Fondation Chanel’s work on gender, climate and the environment; Mary Kay’s Pink Changing Lives and Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator; and Beiersdorf’s “Care Beyond Skin.”

Our member companies continue to conduct business with transparency, oversight and accountability, implementing policies, practices and processes that govern their actions and decision making. Ethical conduct guides our industry to act with integrity and maintain the highest standards. We are committed to promoting greater transparency and disclosure around products and believe everyone deserves the right to know and understand what’s in their products. Our member companies are also committed to eliminating animal testing while ensuring the safety of the products consumers trust and rely on every day. We have long advocated for government recognition and acceptance of alternative testing methods for product safety.

While we face a long list of social and environmental challenges, PCPC and our member companies believe that working together alongside government and NGOs will enable us to make meaningful change. We remain committed to tangible progress on serious issues like workforce opportunity, racial equity, climate change, and sustainable, responsible supply chains. Together we can make a difference.