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Women hold fewer managerial positions than men

A campaign by e.l.f Cosmetics emphasizes it to change things up

Women hold fewer managerial positions than men A campaign by e.l.f Cosmetics emphasizes it to change things up

Paraphrasing Cormac McCarthy, we could say that this is not a world for women. There are those who impose choices on our bodies, want to decide who we love, what we wear, and expect us to become mothers while placing the entire burden of care-work solely on our shoulders, thus undermining our mental health and putting at risk our work outside the home, where maternity is far from protected. If, by some miracle, we manage to survive sexism and harassment at university or in the office, we find ourselves with a salary far lower than our male colleagues and few opportunities to reach top positions. The numbers speak for themselves. Opposing and trying to raise awareness and thus change the situation is the latest campaign by e.l.f. Cosmetics.

So Many Dicks, the e.l.f. Cosmetics Campaign

Raising awareness and promoting change is not easy. It is often a long and tortuous process that requires effort, commitment, participation, willingness and the strength to make your voice heard and to put yourself out there, each in their own way. e.l.f. Cosmetics, a New York-based beauty brand, has chosen to dedicate its new campaign, So Many Dicks, to promoting diversity within the boards of publicly traded companies in the United States, showing that "men named Richard, Rick, or Dick overwhelmingly outnumber women and diverse groups." Specifically, it shows that there are twice as many men named Dick as there are Hispanic women, 19 times more men named Dick than women of Middle Eastern descent, and only three Native American women among board executives. Meanwhile, Black women and Asian women on American boards barely outnumber the Dicks.

Not Just Words, but Actions

e.l.f. Cosmetics has always been an inclusive, diverse, and community-oriented company, convinced that a diverse board leads to better business results and cultural relevance. Today, its workforce of nearly 500 people is 75% women, over 40% Black and people of color, and 65% Gen Z and millennials. This is a virtuous exception considering that, according to a report by the Conference Board and ESGAUGE, among directors appointed last year only 38% were women, down from 43% the previous year, while appointees from racially and ethnically diverse groups dropped to 36% from 45% in 2022. Raising awareness and sharing data through the So Many Dicks campaign is just the first step in the Change the Board Game initiative, with which the company commits to doubling the number of women and diverse minority members on corporate boards by 2027.

Women on Boards in Europe and Italy, the Data

The message from e.l.f. Cosmetics is clear: boards do not reflect the world we live in or the customers of companies, but what is the situation on our continent? The European Commission has stated that women in top positions are still too few. Less than a third of board members of the largest companies are women, although they represent 60% of graduates. "To ensure gender balance on the boards of large listed companies" the EU has established that by the end of June 2026, 40% of non-executive director positions and 33% of all director positions must be held by women, provided that merit is used as the primary criterion and that the selection process is completely transparent.

Women in the boardroom: A global perspective, a Deloitte study conducted on over 18,000 companies in 50 countries, shows the progress of Italy in achieving equality in boards: in 2023, the percentage of women on boards was 40.4%. This number has progressively increased from 29.3% in 2018, partly thanks to the Golfo-Mosca law, but it is still insufficient considering that only 4% are CEOs and that the presence of women in high-level managerial positions is equally scarce. Not to mention that in Italy, the gender pay gap—the difference between the average annual salary of women and men—is estimated at 43%, while in 2022 the employment gap between men and women was 17.5%. And things get worse with children.

The Benefits of Inclusivity and Equality on Boards

e.l.f. Cosmetics believes that "Greater diversity at the board level helps companies better reflect the communities they serve—and this can lead to more profits for everyone." The Harvard Business Review highlights the positive impact of female managers on boards, who are more prepared than their male colleagues. Other studies also suggest that their presence increases the likelihood of company growth. Diverse boardrooms can bring forward different ideas and insights, giving companies a competitive advantage. So why is this winning model not adopted more often? Many companies have made significant progress in increasing representation on their boards, both of women and people from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, but there is still a long way to go, which involves deconstructing patriarchy and gender, racial, and religious stereotypes.