Jessica Alba is known for being a stunning leading lady on the silver screen, but her business endeavors also prove Alba is much more than another pretty face. She is, in fact, a successful businessperson and investor on a mission. Alba wants to provide more opportunities for women to advance in corporate America.
Forget shattering glass ceilings, Alba wants to rewrite the rules on how businesses are set up, how they hire and promote to the highest levels in their organizations. Speaking to CNN’s Poppy Harlow, Alba said she knows it can be “tough when you’re the only woman in the room…” And she wants to balance the scales in order to provide more opportunity.
Alba says the issue is one she is working through in her own business. Alba’s company, “The Honest Company” has a workforce of about 400, 65 percent of whom are women. However, only one-third of her executives are female…including herself. Alba’s company started with a dream of making safe, organic products. It came out of a personal experience, a severe allergic reaction to a specific baby detergent while washing her first child’s clothes.
“I felt like, ‘how the heck could something that’s marketed to babies give me this type of reaction… What’s going on?” Alba said to Harlow.
That experience led to researching and lobbying at the national level. Then, she decided to do something more about it, founding The Honest Company … with three co-founders … all men.
Alba says those early days in the boardroom were tough, and more than a little bit lonely. She was one woman, working around only men, pitching to groups of mostly men … building a company marketed primarily at women.
As her company became more successful, Alba shifted some of her attention to trying to make it more diverse. As her partners focused on the financial end of things, Alba thought about ways to make a change in not just her business but also to serve as an example to others.
Opportunities came when some of the leadership chose to move on. Alba brought in others, who were as committed to shifting the company’s makeup as she was. Not an easy task, she admits, but a necessary one. After all, if there will be change, someone has to lead that change, has to be that change. Alba wants to be part of it, and she wants the shift to be long-term.
She is starting mentoring programs specifically geared toward bringing women into the business. Focusing on women, not to the exclusion of men, but to the promotion – literally – of women into key leadership positions. Yet another way, Alba is setting her company apart.