e.l.f. Beauty’s ‘So Many Dicks’ campaign is calling out inequality in a pretty unique way

While e.l.f. Beauty is used to setting the Internet ablaze with the launch of a new lipstick or cheek tint, the company’s latest campaign targets a different problem area for women: gender inequality. 

As part of its larger Change the Board Game initiative, the beauty brand has unveiled its So Many Dicks campaign, a unified call to see more diversity in U.S. corporate boardrooms. 

e.l.f. Beauty is one of only four U.S. publicly traded companies with a board that’s two-thirds women and one-third diverse.

As part of the new campaign — to help double the rate of women and diverse members added to corporate boards by 2027 — the company researched the nearly 4,500 other publicly traded companies in the United States and found some shocking data about board member diversity.

e.l.f. beauty campaign

But, one figure stood out above them all: 

Out of the nearly 37,000 people involved, there are more men named Dick (Richard, Rich, Rick) on publicly traded boards than entire groups of underrepresented people.

In fact, there are 566 of them.

To put that into perspective:

  • Black women and Asian women barely outnumber men named Dick, with only 806 Black women and 774 Asian women
  • There were only 283 Hispanic women on these same boards — half the number of “Dicks”
  • There are 19 times more men named Dick than the 29 women of Middle Eastern descent on these boards
  • There are only three Indigenous women serving on these boards 

From e.l.f.’s perspective, board diversity is not only a strength — it is part of the secret to the company’s success. CEO and Beauty Chairman Tarang Amin said diversity and multiple viewpoints have helped the brand achieve 20 consecutive quarters of net sales growth.

“e.l.f.’s commitment to diverse representation isn’t limited to within the four walls of our company. We want to normalize diversity — and if it takes some e.l.f.ing in-your-face advertising to do it, we’re happy to put it on some of the biggest screens you can imagine,” added Kory Marchisotto, Chief Marketing Officer of e.l.f. Beauty. “The aim of the data, the database, and the compelling ad campaign is to invite others with us on this journey to drive real impact and help corporate boards more accurately reflect the world around us.”

Making its debut on Wall Street, then hitting the Internet, the “So Many Dicks, So Few of Everyone Else” campaign is getting a big reaction online.

While the campaign is predominantly being hailed as both a “masterclass in marketing” and an important call to action, others are criticizing the makeup giant for being divisive and trying to tackle a societal issue instead of doing what it is “supposed to be doing” —  selling makeup. 

The campaign is set to wrap up in mid-June, but the company says it remains committed to the cause and plans to do more. 

Does Canada have the same problem?

Although this initiative focuses on the U.S., there may also be a lesson for Canada. 

In 2022, the Canadian government released data on publicly traded company boards and their respective levels of diversity. 

Looking at nearly 3,000 director seats across the country, the report found that 19 per cent of seats were held by women. 

That number quickly dwindles when looking at more diverse groups.  

Indigenous peoples make up just 0.6 per cent of seats in the country, while visible minorities — both men and women together — hold six per cent. 

The Canadian government has its own, albeit less creative, initiative to bolster board diversity. 

The 50–30 Challenge is an initiative which proposes targets of 50 per cent women and non-binary people and 30 per cent members of other equity-deserving groups on company boards. 

The report concluded that the 2022 findings showed slight progress in the levels of diversity in senior management, but among boards of directors, the percentage of overall board seats filled by women and members of visible minorities decreased slightly year over year.

Much like our neighbours to the south, it seems we are a ways off the target, but campaigns like e.l.f’s are getting people on both sides of the border talking. 

And to those who may be questioning the need for a campaign like this, as e.l.f. so aptly pointed out: “It’s okay to be a Dick; we just need to make room for other people.”