March is Women’s History Month, and this year, many brands are stepping up to support women and women’s organizations around the world. Women have been disproportionately affected economically by the pandemic, and nearly 275,000 women left the U.S. workforce in January 2021, more than three times the number of men, a display of the continuing impact of the situation. With women bearing the brunt of many of the domestic shifts brought on by the pandemic, consumers expect brands to show their support for women during Women’s History Month and beyond. And, brands are meeting that expectation, forming partnerships with nonprofit organizations that advance and empower women. West Elm, Urban Stems, Bumble, Betty Crocker, Barbie, Spotify and Pinterest are among a growing list of brands authentically using their influence to amplify women’s voices.
1. West Elm Supports BSR’s HERproject
West Elm is partnering with women designers to support BSR’s HERproject. BSR (Business for Social Responsibility) and the HERproject was started in 2019 by West Elm’s parent company, Williams-Sonoma Inc., along with The Estée Lauder Companies, Nordstrom and UGG, to support women in the global garment, textile and horticultural industries with health and finance education. Mandy Seidel, vice president of Williams Sonoma, said in a press release: “Williams-Sonoma, Inc. is at the forefront of the female-empowered workforce, and we’re proud to partner with HERproject to empower women working in factories where our products are made.” To raise money for the initiative, West Elm is featuring a series of custom shower curtains designed by women, “original artwork for a cause” states West Elm, with 50% of the profits pledged to the HERproject. The landing page for the initiative on the West Elm website includes blurbs from each designer about the inspiration for the design, the reasons for supporting the HERproject and Shop Now links, making purchasing and supporting the cause quick and easy.
2. Urban Stems & Bumble Support ACLU Women’s Rights Project
Urban Stems, an ecommerce gift company, and Bumble, an online dating platform “created by women for women,” have teamed up to support the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. The two brands pledged to donate $20,000 to this historic ACLU project that has been fighting for women’s rights since the 1970s. The landing page for the initiative advertises the Urban Stems line of floral bouquets honoring women, stating: “Divine feminine energy deserves to be rewarded – for more than just one day. Celebrate the women in your life all month long with this exclusive collection.” The limited edition Urban Stems bouquets come with titles such as “The Trailblazer,” “The Activist,” “The Fighter” and “The Advocate.” The landing page also features a link to Bumble’s online dating platform. This collaboration for a cause draws in conscientious consumers, driving donations for the ACLU Women’s Rights Project and web traffic to the Urban Stems and Bumble online platforms.
3. Betty Crocker & Barbie Support The Dream Gap Project
Betty Crocker and Barbie formed a partnership to inspire women’s creativity and confidence, announced General Mills, the parent company of Betty Crocker, in a press release this month. The collaboration seeks to address the Dream Gap, defined by the Barbie brand as “self-limiting beliefs” that many women develop in childhood in regards to what is possible for their gender to achieve. The Dream Gap Project global initiative was started in 2019 with a $250,000 donation from Barbie “to start the work of removing barriers that prevent girls from reaching their limitless potential,” stated the company on the Dream Gap Project landing page. The Dream Gap Project initiative supports three charities that work to improve women’s educational and leadership opportunities: She’s the First, She Should Run and Step Up.
Betty Crocker made a $100,000 donation to the Dream Gap Project and created the Betty Lab, an online platform to share ideas and inspiration for the kitchen, a place the company calls, “the original lab.” As the lab reference implies, the platform offers recipes and Betty Crocker products (including the special edition Betty Crocker + Barbie Dream Gap Project Strawberry cake mix) while exploring the science of cooking with kid-friendly projects. “Together, Barbie and Betty Crocker can inspire the limitless potential in every girl by making learning even more fun and by dedicating resources to remove barriers for the next generation,” said Diane Reichenberger, vice president of consumer products at Mattel. Through this collaboration, Betty Crocker and Barbie, both heritage brands traditionally focused on women and girls, are uplifting women and developing brand loyalty via their partnership.
4. Spotify Supports Women Musicians & Media Creators
Spotify, a subscription-based audio streaming service, launched its EQUAL initiative this month “to demonstrate our [Spotify’s] commitment to fostering equity for women in audio and celebrating their global contributions,” stated the company on the landing page for the initiative. Spotify created the EQUAL hub page to feature music, stories and content created by women from diverse backgrounds. The hub page also includes links to curated playlists, podcasts and new releases by women artists. Some of the featured playlists were created in conjunction with nonprofit groups that support women, including Girls Make Beats, She’s The Music, Sound Girls, GLAAD, Color of Change, Women in Music and Women’s Audio Mission. Spotify stated that the EQUAL initiative will be a long-term commitment, extending beyond Women’s History Month. In a video on the page announcing the EQUAL initiative, the company states: “Listening is a verb, it requires action, and you can start right now, playing more women no matter the month.”
5. Pinterest Supports Women’s Businesses & The International Women’s Day Fund
This month, Pinterest announced the creation of its Pinterest Shop Collection to highlight women-led businesses and women-designed products. The Pinterest Shop Collection features more than 25 ecommerce shops and hundreds of products. Aya Kanai, head of content and creator partnerships at Pinterest, stated on the initiative landing page, “Working women were the most affected by changes we saw in 2020, and so we launched the International Women's Day Shop as a way to support and show our commitment to [women-led] small businesses. We are thrilled to give these women-run businesses a platform to shine.” The landing page also features profiles of some of the brands in the collection and details how these brands support women. The International Women’s Day Fund was created by Pinterest with the goal of raising $10,000 for three nonprofit organizations that work to empower women: Black Girl Ventures, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Global Fund for Women. Pinterest connects its users to businesses and products, and this initiative allows women to support women through purchasing and donations.
Authenticity Is Essential For Brands Seeking To Connect With Consumers
At a time when many women are struggling economically and emotionally as a result of the pandemic, brands are showing their commitments to women’s causes and advocating for women. Many studies have proven the value of partnerships, activations and initiatives that amplify causes, and brands able to execute authentically and meaningfully are likely to reap long-term brand affinity as a result.
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