Corporate [Social] Responability Part I: Dermalogica

I’m taking my personal training exam next Sunday and I’m completely unprepared for it, so obviously instead of spending time studying I’ve been watching TV all day and am now taking a break to do a blog post. Adult life is V similar to being in college except I have significantly fewer friends and excuses to drink.

ANYWAY,  I set this series up last week, but just as a little refresher I’m going to be doing a series of posts looking at cosmetics companies and looking at the way in which they go about talking about their corporate social responsibility, what sort of initiatives they do, etc. I want to start a company one day that has a social impact in it, so I thought I would use this platform as a way to do some research and reflect on what I found, and maybe help enlighten some people along the way.

The first company I’m going to be talking about this week is Dermalogica. For those who don’t know, Dermalogica is a skincare company developed by the International Dermal Institute. You can find their products mainly at Ulta and Blue Mercury, as well as online.

I was first introduced to Dermalogica my sophomore year of college when I first started working for Ulta. Ulta obviously carries Dermalogica products, but the Salon at Ulta features a series of facials and microdermabrasion treatments, all utilizing Dermalogica products. I started regularly receiving microderm facials from the esthetician here and she gave me a whole list of Dermalogcia products to try based on a skin-mapping analysis they do. Every store that sells Dermalogica products can do a free skin-mapping and I HIGHLY recommend it.

I have been using Dermalogica products for just over three years now, but it wasn’t until the summer going into my Senior year of college that I learned about their social impact. I was getting a facial before heading off to Costa Rica to examine their enterprises there, and the esthetician mentioned something along the lines of Dermalogica providing loans to women around the world in order to fund their businesses.

Now, I knew Dermalogica was cruelty-free, but to hear that they were taking social initiatives a step further and providing resources to women was incredible to hear. This program is called FITE (Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship), and according to the Dermalogica website, this initiative, “…helps women and girls on the path to entrepreneurship by providing access to education, vocational training, small loans and leadership skills.”

I learned in one of my college courses that they way to help end cyclical poverty and encourage growth in communities is by enabling and empowering the women of these communities, because when women are successful they are more likely to give back to their families and to the communities. Giving a woman resources to start her own business gives her the money to feed her children and keep them off the streets, send them to school to get an education, and support their future.

Here are some stats from the Dermalogica website in regards to this FITE initiative:

  • Funded 91,000+ business loans for women in 68+ countries
  • Provided scholarships for girls in 15+ countries
  • Launched job-skills programs worldwide

In addition to their original FITE initiative, they just launched FITE Entrepreneur Accelerator, an online education platform designed to help fill critical business skills gaps to help small enterprises grow.

Now, all of this is accessible on their website, but it’s not clear the path you have to go to find it. I did a google search for it, but if you’re just a curious citizen trying to see what their social involvement is, it’s a little trickier to navigate. It falls under their “about us” section, which I can only assume a lot of people don’t necessarily head right towards. I work for a company

I work for a company that takes a “quiet” philosophy when it comes to our social impacts because we do not want to seem boastful, and we want to keep the playing field even for shoppers, which I’ve discussed my thoughts on before. However, even with this quiet philosophy we still publish success metrics that can be found by individuals who search for it.

Other than the statistics I listed above, I could not find any direct success metrics. Sure, it’s nice to know how many businesses they’ve lent money to and all that, but what is the success rate of the thousands of women this could help. Are the enterprises all successful? Are you giving them money without collateral? Is there any sort of accountability to ensure that they aren’t just taking this money?

Even after searching for 20 minutes, I’ve only found information regarding the amount of money donated through these loans, and how many recipients there are. There is nothing to show if this is successful or if the women they’re helping are actually making a difference towards improving their livelihoods.

As a consumer, it’s great when I know that the money I’m giving a company through sales – and let’s be honest, with Dermalogica that’s a fair amount of money considering their products are not cheap – is going towards a good cause. However, not everyone is as informed about enterprises and microloans as I am. For those individuals, it’s important to divulge some success metrics in regards to the impact these loans are having on the recipients. Without this, it appears as though FITE is putting on a good show but can’t back it up with concrete facts. Yes, the amount of money and number of recipients is great to know, but it’s also nice to know what they’re doing with this money, if they’ve been successful in their communities, have they been able to pay it forward, etc.

I love Dermalogica and will continue to use their products for as long as it keeps my skin looking amazing, and this post is not an attack on them by any means. Merely, it’s a way for me to get my thoughts down on some sort of paper in order to unpack the sorts of things look for as a consumer so that in the future, when I have a chance to start my own company, I know what I should incorporate.


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