In March of last year, Jacqueline Kusamotu, who has spent a decade working in tech, founded Candour Beauty with her business partner Abi Lawrence-Adesida. It was borne of necessity - and frustration- at the fact black skincare and haircare were woefully underrepresented. In major beauty retailers, online and in stores, there was a distinct lack of product, a dearth of understanding and knowledge in beauty professionals and a huge space missing for women of colour to have their beauty needs met.
Kusamotu's desire was that Candour Beauty would fill that gap in the market. Here, she shares her advice on how to honestly, and organically, invite diversity into your business.
The right questions must be asked
"We often wonder why we had to even create Candour Beauty. Why was there such a gap in the market? For us, it has to have been that the right questions were not being asked. When I was trying to reach my customer, trying to understand my customer. I realised I couldn't can't find any data on them. Essentially, there is nothing in research reports. If women of colour are not even being considered in market research of this kind, it shows they are not being considered as customers at all. I think that's where the problem does stem from, is because that data isn't there."
The right voices must be heard
"You can never have an organic understanding of diversity in your business without a proper consideration of multiple perspectives. If these perspectives are not being considered it is because they are not being raised, these voices were not in the room. If that voice isn't there, there's a lack of real, authentic understanding. And I think for somebody who is not black, they can't understand in the same way, you know, they just have a perception of what they see in the media or a second-hand conception, no matter how well-meaning."
Understand your values as a company
"When we talk about diversity in a business, it really depends on what the values of that company are. If this is something you are striving for, really look at your values, really understand them and make them concrete. Ask yourself; what is the type of company you want to build? Is it easy to just 'put' diversity in there? Really think about how authentic you are about this, or it will always feel a bit performative."
Work from the top down
"Building diversity into a company really has to be from the top down. If you're not going to do it from initially, in the hiring process, especially in senior management, it won't work. You need to get mentors within the businesses who encourage the younger interns, the lower level staff, to up-skill, to climb the chain. It needs to start in the C suite or that upper level, and then try and build up into their middle management and down from there. Because what you find is some companies will say, yeah, we are diverse, but I would ask: but at what level?"
Be in it for the long run
"Diversity is not 'having a moment' and it cannot be treated as such. You cannot approach things like inclusion or unconscious bias training and think it can be fixed in 5 minutes, or that a one hour, lunchtime session, or one single hire will make a difference. This has to be policy that goes forward over a long time. This has to be an ongoing, evolving approach, or it will never truly work."
Make it normal
"The ultimate goal for Candour Beauty is that it will not just be for women of colour, but that it will be a beauty destination that truly caters for everyone, to show what true inclusion means. That is how we should be approaching diversity long term; that it won't be an 'issue,' that having multiple perspectives and needs met will be a natural thing. Because it should be. That's the ultimate goal."
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