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ELC Convenes Global Leaders Alongside UN General Assembly to Advance Equality in the Era of Technology

Estée Lauder Global Changemaker Amanda Gorman joins members of senior leadership teams at ELC’s event, “Access and Inclusion”
Estée Lauder Global Changemaker Amanda Gorman joins members of senior leadership teams at ELC’s event, “Access and Inclusion”

The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) was honored to convene and participate in several events on the sidelines of the recent 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City.

This annual assembly brings together global leaders from United Nations (UN) member states to discuss the world’s most important issues. ELC’s engagement this year amplifies their continued commitment to working with multilateral partners to accelerate progress towards a more equitable and beautiful future for all.

In its 4th consecutive year of convening around SDG 5 (Gender Equality), ELC and its longtime partner, the UN Foundation, co-hosted a reception comprised of nearly 200 leaders from government, business, and civil society. The event was hosted by William P. Lauder, Executive Chairman, and Jane Lauder, Executive Vice President, Enterprise Marketing and Chief Data Officer. Invited guests joined several ELC leaders with the common purpose of encouraging public and private sector dialogue, engagement, and collaboration––with a special focus on Promoting Equality in an Era of Emerging Technology.

This year, the World Economic Forum predicted that, by 2030, more than half of all jobs will require digital literacy as industries are becoming increasingly data driven. This means digital access and literacy are critical to the workforce of the future––which cannot leave out women. The rising influence of technology, namely AI, is particularly relevant to UNGA 78, as navigating these realms has become more difficult than ever.

William and Jane kicked off the evening by welcoming attendees and emphasizing the company’s continued commitment to women’s advancement and gender equity. “Today, with science, technology, and innovation radically transforming the ways we live, socialize, study, and work, they present areas of opportunity in which we can build action,” shared William. “As a company, we feel a responsibility to improving access to technology as a pathway to equality, particularly for women and girls.”

The evening included a short panel discussion with Jane, who was recently announced Executive Sponsor of ELC’s Gender Equity Strategy inclusive of Women in STEM; Estée Lauder Global Changemaker and National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman; and President and CEO of the UN Foundation, Elizabeth Cousens. The panel, which was moderated by Anna Klein, Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs, focused on the importance of both companies and governments finding their unique lanes to make impact.

“The digital divide is the new face of gender inequity—from the gaps in access to online tools to the essential need for safer online spaces,” said Jane. “As a company, I feel it is our role to discover how we can power possibilities in this space for women, girls, and the next generation of talent. It’s imperative not only for the long-term of our company that is founded on creativity, but imperative for us to continue to reframe the narrative around the opportunities in technology. Every company and every organization has a role to play.”

Amanda Gorman shared her perspective on the link between literacy, creative expression, social justice, and technology––as well as the impact of this convergence on our youngest generations. “Digital literacy is more than just giving a young person a computer or a mobile device, it’s about making sure their voice is as empowered as possible within that digital tool,” said Amanda. “So often older generations are focused on passing on wisdom, but how about passing on power? That’s what we really need, now more than ever.”

Elizabeth Cousens spoke to the inflection point that 2023 represents, saying, “The UN General Assembly is the one time of year when every world leader can come to town to try to tackle their problems together. This year marked the midpoint in the march to 2030 [the set goal date for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals], and we know we’re not where we need to be. There is absolute urgency and the need to accelerate the actions we’re taking.”

Throughout the evening, guests shared their experiences, including Chief Tashka and Laura Yawanawá of the Yamanawá tribe, who spoke of their work with Aveda, and the importance of tapping into the local voice and expertise to find solutions.

At the close of the evening, Jane reminded the audience of the unparallel power of coming together, especially to achieve these goals. In her final remarks, she said, “This work cannot be realized by individuals alone—when we join forces as a group, we can really make an impact.” This sentiment not only served as a confirmation of the theme for the evening, but also a call to action to ELC’s many partners in the room.

Learn more about ELC’s work towards Gender Equality.

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