Recognizing women for their business achievements is a cornerstone of CEW’s mission and the Achiever Awards are the jewel in the crown. “From the beginning we’ve singled out women for their business achievements, not their charitable contributions,” said Carlotta Jacobson, president of CEW. “There was never an award that showed the breadth of female talent in the industry, and it’s important to see that they do exist.”
This year’s honorees are no exception, representing a wide swath of the industry — including brand, retail and supplier. CEW is also inaugurating a new honor, called the Catalyst for Change Award, recognizing a woman who has used her platform in the beauty industry to drive social change. Sharon Chuter, the founder and chief executive officer of Uoma Beauty who created Pull Up for Change, designed to hold companies accountable when it comes to diversifying their employee base, is the recipient. “Sharon is very gutsy,” said Jacobson. “Even though companies had programs in place, Pull Up created an acute awareness that there was a big need there.”
For Chuter, enacting meaningful change is her true life’s work. “James Baldwin once said, ‘the world is held together by the love and passion of a few.’ For me being a catalyst for change means passion,” said Chuter.
“That passion drives the courage to lead and challenge the things you cannot accept. But most of all, to love enough to carry the burdens that inevitably come with being a changemaker in a world that is fiercely opposed to change.”
Since creating Pull Up shortly after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, Chuter has continued to press for change, particularly in diversifying the ranks across all levels of a company. Her goals include “seeing more authenticity and true inclusion beyond PR and optics,” she said.
“For example, many large companies appointed very public faces as diversity advisers — the majority of these advisers I have spoken to have not been involved in any dialogue or initiatives with the companies beyond the press release and receiving payment,” said Chuter.
She would also like to see more concerted and organized industry support for issues that impact women, like reproductive rights, but cautions that to create meaningful change, the motivation must be pure.
“Forget about the PR,” said Chuter. “Do it for the right reasons. If you focus on the why, the how will come organically.”
To that end, consistency is key. “In 2020, people were all in. In 2022, most have moved on,” said Chuter. Change takes time, but it needs constant work; you cannot fatigue.”
Finally, “we cannot be afraid of getting it wrong,” Chuter said, noting this is particularly important in an age of cancel culture. “The fear of getting it wrong and the backlash prevent many people from wanting to try. Focus on your intent, continue to learn and grow, take the feedback and block out the noise. Keep pushing and remember why you’re doing what you are doing.”