Hair types

This International Women’s Day (IWD), people around the world are working to ‘break the bias’ when it comes to a whole host of gender and equality issues. #BreakTheBias is the IWD 2022 campaign theme and people are interpreting it in a whole variety of ways – including in the haircare industry.

Haircare and underrepresentation

Bias in the haircare industry is nothing new. According to a survey by All Things Hair, 16% of people would opt to see more women in leadership roles, if they had the power to change one thing in the hair industry. 15% would choose better salaries for women working in the haircare industry.

However, gender imbalances in leadership and pay disparities didn’t top the list of issues identified as being ripe for change. Given the power to change a single thing in the industry, respondents’ top priority was seeing more hair types represented in advertising – a full 20% of those surveyed voted for that. 18% of respondents, meanwhile, prioritized having more inclusive products for all hair types. And 17% wanted more ethnic diversity amongst hair influencers and leaders.

State of the market report

So, is the haircare industry failing when it comes to representing different hair types? Well, the survey results certainly indicate that the industry has further to go when it comes to being inclusive. Yes, equality and diversity issues are moving up the agenda each and every year, but there is still a whole heap of room for improvement.

Let’s talk about women first. According to the #Inclusive100 benchmarking study from She Runs It and Diversity Best Practices, published towards the end of 2020, there has been a notable surge of women taking leadership roles in the advertising industry, as well as in media and tech companies. The survey found that 45% of executive positions across those sectors were held by women, compared to 29% the year before.

For people of color, though, the story was far from positive. The number of Latinx people in the advertising, media, and tech industry stood at 6.6%, while Black people were in just 4.6% of roles. That compares to Hispanic and Latino people and Black or African American people making up 18.7% and 12.1% of the US population respectively, according to the 2020 Census.

That said, there is hope on the horizon. The #Inclusive100 benchmarking study reported a 13% rise in the number of Black people in advertising media and tech and an 11% rise in the number of Latinx employees. Steps in the right direction, at least, though there’s still a long way to go.

As we see growing representation within the advertising sector – and in leadership positions in the haircare industry – it follows that we will see greater representation within the advertisements that the sector is serving up. With the natural hair movement gaining an increasing following, and a greater number of women feeling confident at forging their own path when it comes to how they look, from their clothes to their hair, it will be good to see how much faster change can accelerate over the year ahead.

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