The National Association of Cosmetologists has announced its new diversity goal: To “reinvigorate” its members’ understanding of the role of women in the industry.
The goal also calls for more representation of minority women, and for women to have a seat at the table when it comes to shaping the company’s policies and practices.
It’s not an easy path, said NACA president Jennifer Coughlin.
The group has a history of making some controversial decisions, such as deciding to not allow transgender people to use the women’s bathroom.
It is still not clear what, if anything, that decision means for the health and safety of women and their families, she said.
“Cosmetology has historically been a predominantly male-dominated industry.
So, that’s really a difficult thing to take on,” she said, adding that she believes the industry has always been about more than just women.
But, she noted, “Cosmo has been a lot more inclusive than many other businesses and it’s going to be an ongoing challenge for the next generation of women to be able to participate in that.”
Cosmetologist Lauren Coughins, 30, was hired by the company as a full-time assistant to a client in 2013.
Coughlins said she believes that women in that role have an “important” role to play in the company, but that the industry still has to do a better job of acknowledging and respecting their contributions.
“It’s about building a culture where it’s more about working together to make decisions,” she explained.
The NACA goal comes after a spate of high-profile workplace controversies that highlighted the difficulties women face in the beauty industry.
In 2016, the American Board of Cosmetics and Cosmetological Association released an executive report detailing a wide range of workplace problems, including low wages, unsafe working conditions, low pay, discrimination and poor representation.
A report from the Center for American Progress, which analyzed the data, found that women were underrepresented in beauty and hair care jobs.
A 2015 survey by the National Association for Women Cosmeticians found that while 77 percent of women have worked in the past five years, only 29 percent of the industry workforce is female.
That number is still a bit lower than the percentage of the U.S. workforce.
NACA has been working to diversify its workforce for years, Coughin said, but the current goal is a significant step in the right direction.
The agency said that it wants to improve the representation of women who work in the field, and is also trying to create a more inclusive environment for those who have experienced harassment.
“There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done,” Coughyn said.
But she also pointed out that, as she sees it, there’s a large gap between the reality and expectations of what it means to be a woman in a cosmetological career.
“I think it’s important that there’s more to be learned, because it can be really hard to navigate, and to navigate it you need to have experiences to really know what you’re doing,” she added.
“The majority of women don’t have a history like I do in the makeup business, where you’re an outsider and it feels like you’re not a part of this.”