If you’re trying to find a new skirt, you’d be shocked if you could only find stores selling pants. And yet, that’s so often the case when it comes to the beauty industry. From darker shades being vastly underrepresented in foundation, to many schools not teaching students how to cut and style all hair types, leading to a large portion of the population struggling to have their needs met — the need for more diversity is apparent.
Lack of diversity in the cosmetology industry
Take cosmetology school, for instance. Because standards and qualifications are set at the state level, only 19 states require training specifically for natural hair — still others have no requisites for teaching students techniques such as braiding, twisting, and locking. One type of hair is consistently emphasized, despite it being only a portion of the hair types a stylist can encounter. One survey found that “70% of Asian and Black women felt that their beauty needs weren’t met by high-street brands.” To fix this, it’s important to have a diverse array of voices in every aspect of the beauty industry, who can point out where things are lacking and help broaden and strengthen the methods and skills being taught.
“There are so many untapped opportunities because people [of colour] are systematically ignored from hiring, education and networking. You need to ensure people feel like they can correct you,” says Maddie Saunders in MarketingWeek. “Your workforce needs to reflect your customer base and if you want all women to wear your products then you have to have all women in the boardroom, all women on the shop floor, all women in the lab. That’s how you get those diverse ranges out.”
More representation is needed in every aspect of the cosmetology industry — but how do we get there?
Increasing access to cosmetology schools
One clear way to broaden diversity in cosmetology is to open the doors which will allow more people into the industry, such as attending a cosmetology school. All too often people from every walk of life have these doors kept closed on them — their schedule may not be flexible enough to allow them to also attend a full-time program, or the price of tuition may be too steep with limited alternative payment options. And if financing is available for the latter hurdle, it may be heavily biased toward one demographic. Many traditional lenders use traditional credit scoring systems when evaluating applicants, which has a disparately negative impact on communities of color. Despite this, it’s still widely used.
That’s why Climb, rather than only using traditional approaches to underwriting, instead also employs a Model Management System to power our student lending credit model and further enhance accuracy and fairness by reducing the impact of some credit bureau data points known to correlate with race, gender, and ethnicity. We also place a higher emphasis on a debt-to-future-income ratio, based on the outcomes and track record of career-training programs like cosmetology school. And with a wide variety of payment options — from pay-as-you-go plans, to 0%-interest loans, to standard loans — we’re able to help make sure there are payment options that work for both the school and the student.
Being able to provide more options to prospective students is key when it comes to increasing access to an education program. The more opportunities you can provide, the more you’ll see talented, passionate students enrolling in your school. And with more voices and new talent, the more we’ll see the landscape of the beauty industry change for the better.