An International Women’s Day Op-Ed by Sara Moss, Vice Chairman, The Estée Lauder Companies

This International Women’s Day (IWD), The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) honored the remarkable progress of women throughout history by recognizing this moment as a call to action to continue our work advancing opportunities for women and girls worldwide. This year’s United Nations IWD theme, gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow, resonates for our company as fundamental to our heritage and the path to our future. Both the challenges and opportunities ahead inspire our work to achieve gender and racial equality that will ensure a sustainable, equitable future for all.

We continue to be awed by the strength of women around the world, particularly knowing that women and girls disproportionately bear the negative impacts of global crises, including job loss, unequal caregiving responsibilities, interrupted education and access to health and social services.

Sara Moss, Vice Chairman, The Estée Lauder Companies

Like ELC’s founder, the visionary Mrs. Estée Lauder, we are ready to meet these challenges. As a company, we feel a collective sense of urgency to reaffirm our gender equity commitments published in 2021. As part of the United Nations Foundation’s Five for 5 Initiative, our commitments reaffirm our support of UN Sustainable Development Goal 5, to achieve gender equality and empowering all women and girls, by 2030.

We are proud to share that we have made significant progress, including:

Pay Equity and Representation

  • In FY2021 we achieved 98.7% global pay equity and we are on track to achieve sustained pay equity by 2023.
  •  55% of Global VP positions and above are held by women.
  • For the first time in ELC’s history, a woman is the Lead Director of our Board, and we fully expect to reach 50% gender equity on our Board of Directors by 2023.
  • All our Global Innovation Centers are led by women.
  • Half of our six regions are led by women.
  • More than 50% of our affiliates are led by women.
  • We are accelerating our progress to reach representation parity for Black women in the United States and increase representation of women from underrepresented groups in all regions and affiliates.
  • We continue to support women-owned businesses, with a goal to increase women-owned supplier spend to $150MM by 2025.

Employee Well-Being


  • We expanded our flexible work policies to acknowledge the realities of caregiving and attention to well-being as opportunities to support diverse needs of individuals in their personal and professional growth.
  •  Family-related benefits for eligible U.S. employees include 20 weeks of paid parental leave, a back-to-work flexibility program, and an assistance program to reimburse employees for up to $10,000 of qualified expenses related to the adoption of a child- regardless of an employee’s gender, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Our ELC Cares Employee Relief Fund (ELC Cares Fund) continues to support eligible employees who have been impacted by catastrophic disasters (including COVID-19), personal disasters, and personal hardship. Through contributions from the company, the Lauder family and ELC employees, the ELC Cares Fund supports employees when they need it the most.

Open Doors Women’s Leadership Program


  • This year, we continued to hold intensive sessions in our signature women’s leadership program, Open Doors, a flagship initiative that brings together a diverse cohort of women to develop skills and form relationships that advance their careers. Over the last year, our pilots delivered measurable impact, with more than half of participants receiving a promotion or increased responsibility after the conclusion of the year-long program.
  •  We will expand Open Doors to broaden leadership opportunities in all our regions.
  • We also expanded our reach globally with the launch of the Open Doors Collection, giving all employees access to original, curated leadership content, self-guided active learning, and guides for facilitators. Since the launch, employees have created test-and-learn pilots in brands, regions, functions, and ERGs to build community around the Collection’s tools and resources.

Like our founder, the visionary Mrs. Estée Lauder, we are ready to meet these challenges.

Women’s Leadership Network

  • We continue to leverage the power of the Women’s Leadership Network (WLN), ELC’s largest Employee Resource Group (ERG) and the first to expand into each of our regions around the world.
  •  Women in Supply Chain and Women in Technology and other WLN sub-groups continued to support and engage women across ELC to reach their full potential, with expanded mentorship and sponsorship programs. This year we intend to augment resources that empower women personally and professionally. Expansion to affiliate offices in EMEA is planned.
  • A peer-to-peer mentoring app successfully launched in the EMEA Regional Office in Paris and will expand to more affiliates and regions.

Breast Cancer Campaign

  • Breast cancer is now the most diagnosed cancer worldwide. Together, The Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Campaign (BCC) and The Estée Lauder Companies Charitable Foundation have funded more than $108MM for lifesaving global research, education, and medical services.
  • More than $86MM in funded medical research grants were made through the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).

Partnership Highlights

  • Through The Estée Lauder Companies Charitable Foundation (ELCCF), we became the inaugural corporate funder of the Co-Impact Gender Fund, a global philanthropic collaborative, with a commitment of $15MM over five years. Our support will contribute towards transformative systems change for gender equality.
  • ELCCF has deepened its commitment to creating pathways of advancement in girls’ education, women’s economic participation, and leadership through strategic global partnerships with organizations such as The Young Women’s Leadership Schools, Girls Leadership, and Room to Read.
  • Throughout COVID-19, we provided flexible funding to girls’ education partners around the world and worked to address increased gender-based violence amidst the pandemic through partners such as Oxfam and the UN Foundation.
  • Author and activist, Amanda Gorman, became our first Estée Lauder Global Changemaker, and co-creator of WRITING CHANGE, a 3-year, $3MM initiative to advance literacy as a pathway to equality. Amanda’s dedication to closing the literacy gap both mirrors and fuels our commitment to systemic changes essential to sustained progress for women and girls.
  • We partnered with global spokesmodel and Estée Lauder Brand Ambassador, Karlie Kloss, to help support Kode w/ Klossy camps for young women and non-binary individuals ages 13-18. The free, two-week camp offers young scholars the chance to practice and learn new coding skills and computer science concepts.
  • ELC was represented at the 2021 Generation Equality Forum, led by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of France and Mexico, reaffirming ELC’s commitment to gender equality and equity.
  • ELCCF continues to donate to relief efforts for global refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and other countries. Most recently, we announced our donation of $1 million to support women, families, ELC colleagues and communities in Ukraine.

Advancing Change


Strides toward gender and pay equity solely within our own Company are not enough. The gender equity dichotomies of a year ago persist as resources in critical areas such as health and education diminish. Our work, therefore, remains twofold: continuing our gender equality work within ELC, while simultaneously progressing advancement and equality for all. As we scale up within our own Company, we also partner with individuals and organizations who share our commitment to advancing women and girls of all races and economic backgrounds to level the playing field for every global citizen. ELC continues to build lifelong leaders confident in their unique ability to reach their full potential to create a lasting, positive impact.


Empowering women anywhere empowers women everywhere. True to our founder, and with the strong support of our employees, leaders, and partners, we continue our support for women and girls globally, aiming toward gender equality across all races and sectors. Our progress is as clear as the challenges we will continue to face.


In these unprecedented times, ethical, engaged, conscious leadership based on listening is the kind of presence the world needs. A truly equitable future for all depends on it.

Christine Schott Ledes
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