No more Barbies: Lavandi Talent discusses diversity in the beauty industry

I am sure you know what that title is referring to, and I am sure it made a few readers shudder. The fact is, though, we all recognise that the beauty products and personal grooming arena suffers from a bit of a historical dichotomy when it comes to diversity. Yes, it was responsible for using a great many images that are very problematic in the current zeitgeist, but it is also responsible for some landmark changes in the representation and definition of what is considered ‘beauty’ by society.

As a business that spends a great deal of time immersed in the world of beauty and personal grooming businesses, we at Lavandi Talent can tell with the utmost confidence that the desire to embrace the principles and practice of promoting diversity is not only present, it is burning brightly. Perhaps some would suggest this is a reaction to having been guilty of promoting the now dreaded Barbie image in the past, but our experience is that this is not the case.

From the recruitment perspective, we have seen a real drive towards processing methods that encourage a more inclusive recruitment agenda. Specific goals are being set, and multiple changes from anonymising applications to tackling unconscious bias are now common practice.

In our opinion, this is a desire that is a trait stitched into the very nature of the people who work in this world. They are, as we have said in previous articles, funny, creative, awake to the needs of the community and actively seeking to lead when it comes to inclusivity.

The tables turned on the traditional representation of beauty some time ago now

Undoubtedly, where we are currently on this journey owes a lot to historical milestones such as Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaigns and the efforts of hundreds of other manufacturers and retailers to reach out to consumers.

It is easy to be cynical about these kinds of campaigns and question motivations, but when you look at the current market, you cannot help but see the positive echoes in the products and outreach at the consumer level.

Rihanna’s company Fenty, for example, promoted body-positivity amongst males by having a plus-sized man as a model for her brand. It caused a social media sensation and an almost universally positive reaction. Shocked plus-sized men praised it for finally representing them correctly and considering them attractive in their own right, not because of a standard set on Madison Avenue.

Society can be very rigid when defining how a man’s body should look. We have all seen Hollywood celebrities being shamed for not maintaining their ripped physique. Fenty did a great job, understood that plus-sized men are also consumers, and produced a safe space for them to be shown on websites and billboards.

It’s not just what you see in front of the lens

Beauty is not just from what you see in front of the lens, of course. Those in charge of the process behind the lens and in the management circles will drive continued leaps forward. There has been a marked increase of diversity in leadership, development and influencers in the beauty industry in recent years. All this ripples down to the consumer.

One only needs to look at the influencers on social media to see the boundaries of culture, race, gender, sexuality, colour, size, age, and all other markers of exclusion being chipped away.

From small steps such as producing products for a fuller range of skin tones through to giant strides in representation, the beauty industry is taking the reins and leading when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

As a recruiter working closely with the beauty and personal grooming industry, we at Lavandi Talent are genuinely honoured to be part of this drive at a grassroots level. If we can do anything to help you on the road to a fully diverse workforce, we would be happy to help.

Get in touch, and let’s talk about your recruitment needs.

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Lavandi Talent (more information, website)