The Value of Action in Creating Equality and Building the Business

From equal pay to gender and racial equality in the workplace, Procter and Gamble is dedicated to taking a stand on the issues that impact American lives. That work has taken on new meaning in 2020, as the country fights a new health crisis and continues to battle long-ingrained systemic racism and gender inequality.

Carolyn Tastad, group president – North America and chief sales officer for P&G, joined Consumer Brands’ CPG Speaks series to discuss how the company pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic, how they are continually addressing bias and working to advance equality and why all of CPG must use its voice to do the same.

Prioritize People

At the start of the coronavirus crisis, P&G leadership outlined their top three priorities for the months ahead: Ensure the safety of all employees; continue to serve consumers and maximize the availability of products; and support the communities that were hardest hit by the pandemic, as well as the ones that P&G employees live and work in.

“These were established right from day one, and frankly became our global priorities in every market that we do business in,” Tastad said.

Over the past few months, every P&G employee has jumped into action, thinking outside the box and helping wherever they can to support their fellow employees and local communities — including temporarily shifting operations to create personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line workers and coworkers. This innovative and quick-thinking spirit is carrying over to every aspect of the business, especially as heightened demand for health, hygiene and cleaning products continues into the fall.

“Early on, our innovation teams figured out how to make masks and face shields,” she said. “We figured out how to make hand sanitizer and provided that for our own team, and then as we had more capacity, we launched in about eight weeks under the Safeguard name.”

Use Your Brand Voice

As the world’s largest advertiser, P&G knows the power of brand voice to shape culture and shine a light on issues that matter.

“As we think about our advertising, we’re committed to the authentic and accurate portrayal of all people,” said Tastad. “In this crisis, it was important for us to develop communication and content that really pointed out the disproportionate impact on certain parts of our population.”

As part of this mission, P&G released several short films, addressing gender equality and racial inequity, choosing to lean in to the conversation, not shy away from what could have been perceived as uncomfortable.

“People expect companies to take a stand. But it has to be authentic. Then your voice comes out clear and that’s when it makes a difference.”

“It’s really important that we continue to be intentional in not letting ourselves go backward in times of crisis,” she said. “People expect companies to take a stand. But it has to be authentic, it has to be baked in all the way through. Then your voice comes out clear and that’s when it makes a difference.”

Don’t Wait for Permission

Today, P&G has the most diverse leadership in the company’s history and the best results in more than a decade — a correlation that is no accident. Tastad shared that P&G just announced Debra Lee to its board of directors, bringing the board to 50/50 gender representation among its independent directors. Women also make up 40 percent of P&G’s top C-suite executives and 48 percent of all management positions — nearing the company’s goals for 50/50 gender representation at every level.

“The work that we do to bake equality into our brand building, how we develop our plans and the kind of workplace we create for our employees is part of what helps us have the impact we do.”

Though there’s more work to be done, P&G is leading and encouraging others to do the same.

“There’s no need to wait for permission. Do something, take a stand and move these agendas and issues forward because we can.”

“There’s no need to wait for permission. There’s no need to wait for regulation, for new legislation,” Tastad finished. “As leaders of our own companies, we don’t have to wait for anybody to tell us it’s okay to go. Do something, take a stand and move these agendas and issues forward because we can. And we can have a really significant, positive impact in doing so.”

Visit our website to learn more about CPG Speaks and to register for an upcoming session. CPG Speaks is complimentary for attendees, thanks to PwC and individual session sponsors. View this session in full here.