Today is the first day of Black History Month, a month dedicated to celebrating and reflecting on the impact Black Americans have had on our society. I feel so proud to call myself a Black American. We are resilient, strong, fearless, and have overcome so much to get to where we are today. We are engrained in the fabric of American history. My cousin recently sent my family a book titled “Little Legends, Exceptional Men in Black History” for us to read together this month. From Alvin Ailey to W.E.B. Dubois, there are beautiful examples of the impact these men have had on the world, and more importantly they provide a lens into the possibilities my kids can aspire to.
As a Black woman who wears many hats – wife, mom, CFO – I know much of what I do every day, particularly in my career, would not be possible without the sacrifice of my ancestors. For their fight to be treated equally and fairly in this world, I am forever grateful. The baton now rests with us, this generation, to continue the fight for justice and equality.
I am proud to be a leader in a company that upholds these values. For e.l.f. Beauty, diversity and inclusion have always been part of our DNA and we continue to lead with purpose. Our Chairman and CEO, Tarang Amin, has been vocal in his support for racial justice and steadfast in his intention of making it a priority for our company. Along with our broader Executive team, we continue to make progress – showing our support inside of our company and with organizations furthering the cause in our community.
We have held monthly forums, declared Juneteenth as a company holiday, and donated to Color of Change and other black organizations in support of anti-black racism. Our workforce improved from 7% to 8% Black employees over the last six months, and we further diversified our Board of Directors which is now 20% Black and 40% diverse. For Black History Month, we are donating to Black Girls Code, an organization whose mission is to “introduce programming and technology to a new generation of coders, who will become builders of technological innovation and of their own futures.” Black Girls Code aligns with e.l.f.’s purpose pillar of empowering others and we are thrilled to support this organization. We will also reflect and rejoice throughout the month by hosting equality and racial justice panels, celebrating Black Joy with our brands, and highlighting our employees here on LinkedIn.
As challenging as 2020 was, we were able to make progress as a company and as a nation toward recognizing the need for racial justice. This year, however, got off to a harrowing start with the insurrection at the Capitol, an event that cut at the heart of our democracy and offered a stark example of the differing treatment afforded to those whose skin is not black or brown. Thankfully, during the week of January 18th, we witnessed a peaceful transition of power and were offered a fresh start. I was filled with pride to start the week by celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and wrap up with the historic inauguration of Kamala Harris, the first female, Black and South Asian Vice President of the United States. Those back-to-back celebrations reminded me of the progress we’ve made as a people, and how much we have overcome.
Vice President Kamala Harris as well as former President Barack Obama are shining lights in our community. They both give our younger Black generations and all children something to aspire to – the highest positions in United States government have now had Black people in the role. Representation matters – young people seeing themselves in those who have soared to the highest heights will inspire them to reach higher. As a Black, female CFO, I hope too that I’m inspiring young women and men to reach higher. We can never stop aspiring for more and marching forward if we want to see continued progress in this nation. I’m marching forward for my boys with a light for anyone who wants to become a business leader. Kamala’s marching forward with a light for all women to follow in her footsteps.
On that note, I’ll end with an excerpt from the song Lift Every Voice and Sing. This song is often referred to as the Black National Anthem. Written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson and later set to music by his brother, it remains engrained in the fabric of Black History.
“Sing a song, full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us. Facing the rising sun, of a new day begun, Let us march on ‘til victory is won.”
This is the first song I was taught, around the age of 5! I taught it to my boys so that they too can understand our history and have hope with each new day, we will continue to make our mark on history. Our continued progress relies on a relentless drive to keep marching on until victory is won.
- Mandy Fields, CFO e.l.f. Beauty