Celebrated by people all over the globe on the 8th March annually, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a day to recognize and commemorate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women as well as raising awareness about women’s equality and lobbying for accelerated gender parity.
The theme of IWD 2022 is #BreakTheBias encouraging us to challenge and actively call out gender stereotyping, discrimination, and bias when we see it. Although we’ve come a long way when it comes to gender equality, women are still more likely to be held back in their careers than men and experience prejudice and discrimination in the workplace because of their gender. Women of color, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities are particularly affected as they face more acute biases.
All Bloom staff are incredibly proud to be part of the cosmetics industry, which is made up of mostly female employees. According to Arthur Edwards 2021 Salary Survey and Industry Report, females outnumber their male counterparts at entry, junior, mid- and senior-level roles. However, at top level positions such as company directors and CEOs, it is males who outnumber females. This is reflected in salaries where 13% of male respondents earn 125k+ per year compared to only 2% of females. This highlights the inequality that still exists in our industry.
At Bloom, we are proud to be an all-women organization that is women-owned, women-led and women-run. We are a diverse group of women of different ages, races, and backgrounds. We didn’t set out to be a female workforce but it worked out that way! For now, at least. Employees are hired based on ability, drive and passion for the job and gender is not a consideration during the hiring process.
As mentioned above, women are more likely to be held back in their careers and experience prejudice and discrimination in the workplace. Our CEO, Olivia Santoni, kindly agreed to answer a few questions about being a woman in business and her own experiences that led her to where she is today.
1. Did you ever envision yourself as CEO of your own company?
"Yes I always wanted to create a consultancy company to help businesses be successful. I saw over the years a lot of amazing competent people that were not able to grow in their work environment either because of a lack of confidence, opportunity or friendly character. I was lucky enough to have been able to grow and be supported by my management team over the years during my career and I wanted to establish a business structure that would be in line with my ethics by creating a safe place for people to work so they can reach their full potential."
2. What challenges have you had to face being a woman in business (if any!) and how did you overcome them?
"Due to the fact that women are a minority in business it is always a challenge to be the outsider in a group. Even worse if you are a young woman as you may not be taken seriously at first. It requires a lot of adaptation skills. But there are a lot of women at top level positions that took me under their wings. Female solidarity is very strong and is definitely increasing every year."
3. What qualities of your own do you think are valuable being a female CEO?
"Unfortunately women are often mocked for being dramatic or weak. Therefore a lot of women in business adopt a more masculine approach to management to go against these stigma but the reality is that feminine qualities are priceless for operating as a CEO. To be able to achieve new ideas and reach new opportunities we have to gain trust by supporting, nurturing and reassuring our staff and customers. Being able to listen to different opinions and concerns / hesitation is crucial to bring people together and find creative solutions that will make the project a success."
4. What do you think is the importance of having women in top-level roles?
"It is priceless. High management lacks diversity and therefore management styles and creative ideas."
5. What one piece of advice would you give to younger women that you wish you knew at their age?
"Do not try to copy the management style of your male counterparts, instead try to develop your own style and be supportive of other women."
6. How important is diversity in the workplace to you?
"I grew up with diversity and it brings such rich experiences and open minded visions. In business this is really important. There is no A to Z manual to build a successful business and therefore working with people with different backgrounds is a real advantage and exposes you to new ideas."
7. How do we at Bloom "break the bias"?
"We have a team built around diversity and our way of working ensures that everyone feels safe to input in business decisions. Our customers are based all over the world and we always ensure to listen to how they apprehend certain issues and to provide relevant insight. We are also using this opportunity to build relationships with our customers, understanding their culture and talking about UK specificities. Exchange and communication is critical to avoid bias and stereotyping."
The cosmetic industry is always an exciting industry in which to be involved and we don’t expect the coming years to be any different. As we face the new hurdles that will come along, we look forward to growing our diverse team and customer base more in the future whilst continuing to tackle and overcome challenges concerning inequality, prejudice and unfair bias.
What are you doing to #BreakTheBias?
Written by Laila Manshi