Symposium on Diversity and Globalization at FIT Showcases Transforming Business for Beauty

The School of Graduate Studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) presented a symposium on “Diversity and Globalization in the Beauty Industry” on Friday, November 16, 2012, at FIT. For the event, leaders from top beauty companies discussed how diversity and globalization are transforming business strategies for companies and consumers.

Stephan Kanlian, chair of the master of professional studies program in cosmetics and fragrance marketing and management, introduced the keynote speaker, Antoinette (Tonie) Leatherberry, principal for Deloitte Consulting LLP. Leatherberry serves as Northeast practice leader for information management and business analytics and chaired Deloitte’s diversity and inclusion committee. She observed that companies must focus on inclusion in their “behaviors, policies and philosophies” in order for all stakeholders to achieve their full potential. She cited FIT’s cosmetics and fragrance marketing and management Capstone 2012 research project on diversity and globalization for its cutting-edge explorations in areas including marketing, product innovation, and corporate governance.

Following the keynote speech, a panel of industry and student representatives discussed globalization business trends in the beauty field. They noted that businesses and brands are moving away from the one-size-fits-all concept and engaging in more one-on-one communication with consumers.

“You can’t have a viable business in beauty without talking with the consumer,” said Cheryl Wilson, director, global business development ethnic hair care, Unilever. And Nicholas Gavrelis, vice president, global product development, MAC Cosmetics, The Estée Lauder Companies, added that a “boots on” approach, involving physical interaction with local markets, is also an integral part of successful global business practices. Ursula Wynhoven, general counsel, United Nations Global Compact Office, and Alexandra Fritsch-Gil, marketing manager, Bumble and bumble, The Estée Lauder Companies, who is also a graduate of the cosmetics and fragrance marketing and management’s class of 2012, rounded out the panel.

An interview with Mark Davis, director, community fair trade, The Body Shop International, focused on ethical trade and the ways that fair trade practices become a mutual relationship among consumers, companies, and suppliers. Companies that compensate suppliers fairly give people “the power to control their own lives and be what they can be,” Davis said. Consumers who buy products specifically from companies that institute fair trade practices and protect the environment “can change things” globally, and have an impact on a corporation’s bottom line, he continued.

The symposium was the first of a series to be presented by FIT’s School of Graduate Studies. “These symposia will provide a forum for an enlightening and critical exchange of ideas and creative works founded in the research undertaken by the college’s students and faculty,” said Dr. Mary E. Davis, dean of the FIT School of Graduate Studies. It was supported by a grant from the FIT Diversity Council, which was established by FIT President Dr. Joyce Brown. Related research and video highlights will be available on FIT’s website.

More in Event Coverage