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How Dermalogica Is Fighting for Gender Equality, One Clear Complexion at a Time

By Zahra Barnes

Did you know: Women accomplish 66 percent of the world's work and produce 50 percent of the world's food, according to statistics from Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship (FITE), an entrepreneurship initiative from Dermalogica.

Then why do women only walk away with 10 percent of the world's income and own one percent of land globally? Subpar education for girls leads to rampant gender inequality, especially when it comes to entrepreneurship. Dermalogica wants to change that. 

"FITE works all over the world to help women reach their potential," said Natalie Byrne, director of global impact at Dermalogica. Specifically, it helps women break into entrepreneurship, which is "the fastest way out of poverty," said Byrne. The numbers on gender inequality in the entrepreneurial sphere are startling: A whopping 9 out of 10 women-owned businesses can't secure a loan in many developing countries, women-led companies only comprise a scant 17 percent of medium-sized enterprises, and fewer than three percent of Fortune 500 company CEOs are women. FITE is trying to change the game with a three-pronged approach.

First, they offer loans to help women entrepreneurs finance their companies (they’ve funded more than 50,000 loans so far!). Since education is often the foundation of a successful life, they also make it a point to invest in girls' schooling and support leadership programs that will teach them how to take the reins. Finally, FITE is all about promoting grassroots movements that help women and communities on a local level.

"Women's entrepreneurship is growing. I wanted to help create something that was central to who we are as a brand," Byrne said.

When it comes to entrepreneurship, Byrne knows what she's talking about. She recently traveled to Kenya with President Obama as a delegate for the Global Entrepreneurs Summit.

"I spoke with women entrepreneurs from all over the world on focusing their brands to recognize the reasons why they founded that company, and connecting that to their consumers through impactful initiatives that are giving back," said Byrne. Plus, she's cultivated something of an entrepreneurial spirit throughout her entire career. "I would always talk to people and ask them how they got to where they were. From that, I was able to create a path that hadn’t been taken," she said. Starting a business is the path less taken for the women FITE targets, and that makes it all the more inspiring. 

Sometimes the road to gender equality can seem bleak, given how many battles women have yet to win. When you need a boost, it's encouraging to take a look at programs like FITE that are taking tangible strides forward.

"The future is in women-owned businesses," Byrne said. "I'm excited to help shape that in any way I can." If you are too, join FITE to make a difference in women’s entrepreneurial endeavors.

Watch the video on founder of Dermalogica, Jane Wurwand, talk about how women should be the voice for all the women and girls who don't have one. Learn more about Wurwand by watching her full MAKERS story here.

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Photo Credit: Michael Bezjian via Getty Images