YSL Beauté, the L'Oréal-owned beauty brand, is taking a stand against violence in intimate relationships with the launch of its Abuse is Not Love initiative, in a bid to raise awareness and provide support for those dealing with an abusive partner.
Today, approximately one in three women will experience intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lifetime, according to the World Health Organization (WHO); meanwhile, in the US, UK and France, a woman is killed by her partner every three days (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)).
Violence against women by their partners has seen a 30-60% surge worldwide during the Covid-19 pandemic – including physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse, as well as controlling behaviour – as many women have been in lockdown with an abusive partner and unable to seek support.
Now, YSL is launching its global campaign to raise awareness of and support for victims of IPV, which will see the brand fund academic research on IPV to encourage discussion and prevention; educate consumers on the warning signs through partnerships with charities in the US, UK and France; and training its employees and beauty advisors to recognise IPV in the workplace.
Stephan Bezy, International General Manager at YSL, said: “Supporting women, especially when it comes to their independence, is central to the way the brand acts. Intimate partner violence hinders the safety, wellbeing and independence of women.
“It therefore felt very natural to work on an issue that stood in opposition to our core values and beliefs.”
Kicking off the initiative by partnering with women's charities En Avant Toute(s) in France, Women's Aid in the UK and It's on Us in the US, the brand hopes to educate two million people worldwide by 2030 to help them recognise the signs of IPV and promote meaningful change.
Speaking to Cosmetics Business, Bezy explanined: "En Avant Toute(s), Women’s Aid and It’s On Us are three leading organisations in preventing intimate partner violence in their countries.
"We have a rigorous selection process when it comes to partnering with organisations, and we are proud to work with these that have concrete impact in a credible, reliable, and impactful way."
"What they all have in common is their passion and dedication to this important cause, however tackling it in a local way.
"In research we saw that young people aged 16-24 experienced the highest prevalence of IPV, and therefore we wanted partners who were working on helping prevent young people from experiencing IPV."
YSL has also made an additional donation of €155,000 to En Avant Toute(s), enabling the charity to open an emergency chat service to provide free and anonymous support to those in need, Bezy revealed.
"As work-from-home mandates are in place, many IPV survivors are locked down with their abuser.
"We know it is incredibly important for people experiencing abuse to have access to resources, safely and securely."
Informed and empowered
Bezy also hopes that the initiative will not only speak to YSL's consumers, but also its employees, as well as inspiring more beauty brands to speak up about social issues.
"Corporate social responsibility is a core element of our DNA and will continue to be a priority in the future," he told Cosmetics Business.
"We thought long and hard to find the right social cause to support and fighting for women’s emancipation and independence is at the heart of the brand.
"This issue means a great deal to us and we consider this partnership long term.
"Given the prevalence rates of intimate partner violence, IPV likely impacts our customers but also our employees, so we needed to start by training internally.
"As an employer, it is our responsibility to protect the safety of our employees.
"We hope that it will have real implications for organisational policy and employee wellbeing that is relevant to all companies."
Dr Beth Livingston, a US-based gender and diversity academic who has conducted research for the programme, added: “The data on this topic is clear: IPV is a dangerous issue that affects women (and men) in all facets of their lives, including the workplace, and I believe that YSL Beauté’s efforts will help bring important resources and awareness to those in need.”
Meanwhile, YSL will also work with its brand ambassadors, including actress Zoe Kravitz and singer Dua Lipa, to raise awareness and empower women.
Lipa, who fronts the brand's Libre fragrance, commented: “I am a vocal supporter of women’s rights and today, 600 million women in the world are living in a country where intimate partner violence is not considered a crime.
“This is an issue that deserves attention and it is time to take action. I am proud to support my YSL Beauty family in this important initiative.”