Beauty industry shows up for Women on Boards Project

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images \ (monkeybusinessimages)
© Getty Images \ (monkeybusinessimages)

Related tags Leadership Board of directors diversity inclusive beauty equality Gender

In late February, the new nonprofit announced a first cohort of participating brands, including startups in makeup and skin care.

The industry is present as well among private equity firms backing the Women on Boards Project. And, a Unilever executive sits on the nonprofit’s own board of directors. 

Sheryl O’Loughlin, Kara Cissell-Roell, and Cassie Nielsen founded the Women on Board Project one year ago this month to “Increase the number of women on natural products and services boards to 50% by 2025,” ​according to an objectives statement on O’Loughlin’s LinkedIn page.

And now this year, the nonprofit has announced a roster of private equity firms that have signed on to support the initiative as well as a first cohort of 20 brands committed “to enhancing gender diversity on their boards,” ​according to a press release circulated late last month by the Women on Boards Project.

Investors and industry see a need for the Women on Boards Project 

“Without immediately addressing diversity and inclusion in our boards and leadership, our companies and industries will not meet the needs of our consumers and drive the innovation and fact-based decision making needed to drive growth and profitability in this evolving marketplace,” ​says Nielsen, a founding board member with the Women on Boards Project and Vice President of Talent at VMG Partners, in the release.

The Women on Boards Project has teamed up with VMG Partners and several other private equity firms to support the initiative. That list of firms includes L Catterton, Swander Pace Capital, Alliance Consumer Growth, TSG Consumer Partners, Encore Consumer Capital, and CircleUp.

The nonprofit has also formed a partnership with The Boardlist, an online marketplace that helps tech companies find qualified women to serve on their boards.

How the Women on Boards Project works

Every six months, 20 new companies will join the project and commit to improving gender diversity on their boards. There is no cost to the participating companies.

The Women on Boards Project (WOB) will help each company find board candidates: the “WOB Project will collaborate on a candidate scorecard, compensation parameters, interview and research strategy. From there, WOB Project will provide 5-10 candidates that fit the criteria and will continue to support each company as they work to enhance gender diversity on their respective boards,” ​explains the media release.

How beauty is involved in the Women on Boards Project

“As we spoke with CEOs and private equity firms in [the natural products] industry, we recognized the urgent need to address board representation,” ​says O’Loughlin, who’s not only Co-Founder and Co-Chair of Women on Boards Project but also the former CEO of REBBL Inc. and Clif Bar and currently Co-Founder of Plum Organics.

“The purpose of Women on Boards Project is to create an industry-wide change,” ​she says; And, “we are so humbled by the outpouring of support we have received and are energized to jumpstart this movement and make significant strides towards greater gender diversity.”​ 

The WOB Project is already a cross-industry initiative and beauty is one of those industries. Mita Mallick, Head of Diversity & Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Marketing at Unilever, is a member of the organization’s board. And both Mented Cosmetics (which has received funding from CircleUp) and Moon Juice (funded by both Able Partners and DGNL Ventures) are among the first 20 brands to participate.

Plus, all of the private equity firms involved with the WOB Project have or are invested in cosmetics, personal care, grooming, etc. What follows is a quick list of some such notable investments:

  • LCatterton (bliss, COVER|FX, Il Makiage New York, intercos group, Kopari, Nutrafol, StriVectin, TULA Skincare)
  • Swander Pace Capital (glo Skin Beauty)
  • Alliance Consumer Growth (Harry’s, MILK Makeup, Ouai Haircare, Tata Harper, Pacifica, NUDESTIX)
  • TSG Consumer Partners (HudaBeauty, it Cosmetics, smashbox Cosmetics, e.l.f., Perricone MD)
  • Encore Consumer Capital (butter London, Supergoop!, tarte, MyChelle Dermaceuticals)
  • CircleUp (function of beauty, Winky Lux, HeyDay, Hum Nutrition, Kosas)

To learn more about The Women on Boards project, click here.



Deanna Utroske is a leading voice in the cosmetics and personal care industry as well as in the indie beauty movement. As Editor of the news website, she writes daily articles about the business of beauty in the Americas region and regularly produces video interviews with cosmetics, fragrance, personal care, and packaging experts as well as with indie brand founders.

Related topics Business & Financial

Related news

Show more