You’re probably already familiar with Beautycounter as a premiere skincare brand, but did you know that they have passed 9 bills and counting to protect consumers from harmful chemicals? In this episode SVP of Social Mission at Beautycounter Lindsay Dahl sat down to chat with me about how Beautycounter is having an impact and she had some great insights to help you create impact as well.
Vote – in every election. And the smaller, more local the election, the more weight your ballot has. Not only are you directly impacting the outcome of who gets elected, referendums, bonds, and those policies that directly impact you, you’re also building a voting record as a good voter who votes consistently! And, that makes it even more powerful when you take any of these other actions.
Call Your Legislator – Lending your voice to issues you care about is a way to have a huge impact with very little effort. Below is a script you can use if you’re unsure of what to say. You can call the US Capitol Switchboard where they will connect you with the office of your representative or senator, once you reach their office you will be greeted by either a legislative aid or a voicemail box (if its after hours). The number to call the Capitol is 202-224-3121. If you’re unsure who your representative is, head over to OpenStates and you can look up your reps on both the local and federal level.
A script you can use when call:
“Hi, my name is [first AND last name] and I am a resident of [city/town/district and include state if calling your federal representatives]. I am calling to urge [insert name of legislator] to [support/oppose] [House/Senate Bill number or name of bill or particular issue]. This issue is important to be because [one – two sentences here, be very brief, the aid will likely only use one or two words to note, if any. You can also omit your why if you don’t have a clear why already in mind]. Thank you for for your time and please [support/oppose] [senate/bill number]. Thank you.”
A real world example script my team used when working on Marriage Equality on the state level:
“Hello. This message is for [legislator name]. My name is Benn Marine and I live on [street] in [town]. I’m calling you to ask you to vote to support marriage for same sex couples. Marriage is important to me because as a member of the LGBTQ community myself, it’s an issue near and dear to my heart. I believe all loving committed couples deserve to share in the freedom to marry. Thank you.”
Easy peasey. You can do it. I have faith in you.
Write a Letter – You can send an email or a hand written note (or both). You can even use the above script in a similar way as a place to start. With a written letter you can expand a bit more about your why, do you have a story to share? Are there other key points you want to make? You have more room in a letter to do that.
Request a Constituent Meeting – If you have been personally impacted by an issue, sharing your story face to face with a legislator can have a HUGE impact. Also, even if you haven’t been directly impacted, if you work with an organization with others and request a meeting, by increasing the number of requests may lend some urgency to the legislator to take a meeting if they have been reluctant to. If this is something you are interested in, I would strongly encourage you to find what organization(s) are working on the issue in a legislative capacity and tell them you are willing to meet with the legislator. Often these orgs will have power mapped out the legislature and will know who their key votes are and what kind of messages and messengers are most likely to move them on an issue and will be able to help you in amplifying your efforts, and by working with an organization you’re more likely to be successful in your effort to pass legislation.
Write a Letter to the Editor of your local paper – This can help raise public awareness on an issue, and also signal to your representatives that the community is paying attention to how they will be voting on particular issues. And a planned series of letters to the editor can help to stimulate public interest and may even help create some earned media opportunities for the cause.
Knock doors / Make Calls with an Organization – If you’ve never done this, I understand how it can be intimidating, and it is incredibly effective and useful to the campaign if you are willing to do it. I personally am a huge fan of knocking doors and can honestly say what I love most about it is how people surprise me for the better.
Find a Buddy! – Find a friend, family member, co-worker, and invite them into the work with you! By Asking a friend to join you are literally doubling your efforts while also making it more fun! And if you are feeling apprehensive about doing any of the above a buddy or accountabili-buddy can help support you when it feels overwhemling or hard. And then afterwards you can celebrate together!
Lindsay Dahl [0:03]
There’s so many stories about what happens or doesn’t happen in DC. And one of the things I have seen as a through line for my whole career is that when people make phone calls or they send emails to their elected officials, when enough people do it over time, things change.
Benn Marine [0:24]
From Dirgio Collective, this is Responsibly Different sharing stories of Certified B corporations and our journey of joining them in leveraging business as a force for good.
Welcome back to another episode of The Responsibly Different podcast. I’m Ben Marine, your host, and this week I’m sharing with you my conversation with Beautycounter’s, SVP of Social Mission, Lindsay Dahl. Lindsay has extensive experience as an activist and passing legislation that protects both people and planet Beautycounter has led the charge and passed over nine different bills in the clean beauty space to help protect consumers and producers. Lindsay shares with us how Beautycounter is having an impact and share some great advice on how to have a meaningful impact yourself. Will you share with us about your role and what a typical day looks like for you at Beautycounter?
Lindsay Dahl [1:25]
Sure, well, thanks for having me. Um, I head up the Social Mission team at Beautycounter, which means I get to oversee all the fun stuff. Beautycounter is a skincare and cosmetics company based in Southern California. And I get to oversee all of our ingredients safety, our sustainability, which includes packaging, and responsible sourcing and all of our advocacy and giving work. And so I like to describe my days, both start I work at the very high level of how can our brand help create this movement for change. But then I’m also in the really nitty gritty of is this ingredient safe, then I work with our team of scientists to decide if and how we use ingredients or packaging in our formulation.
Benn Marine [2:06]
That’s really, really cool. I’m curious what got you interested in getting involved with social and environmental justice work?
Lindsay Dahl [2:13]
You know, I think when I was a kid I was I was someone who was kind of irked by the status quo. And I saw a lot of people around me that were kind of like shrugging their shoulders, saying, Oh, well, that’s just the way things are. And I always kind of had this rabble rouser spirit where I was like, No, we can change things. And so I think that kind of carried through over to my career. And I was lucky early on after college to have a couple of cool jobs in the environmental field where I saw firsthand the power of passing legislation in order to protect the environment. And for me, it was kind of this lightbulb moment that went off. And then I transitioned from working on traditional environmental issues to the field of environmental health, which is really looking at how toxic chemicals and our consumer products impact our home environments. And that was a fun transition for me. But it, I think the I think a general sense of frustration with the status quo, and really wanting to address things to make people’s people’s lives healthier and the environment a little bit more protected was the kind of inspiration.
Benn Marine [3:24]
That makes a lot of sense, for sure. I know, kind of digging a little deeper there. I know you’ve led grassroots movement that ultimately led to the first overhaul of toxic chemical regulations since 1976. I’m so curious, can you tell us a bit about that? How did that manifest?
Lindsay Dahl [3:41]
A lot of people and a lot of work and a lot of years. So as I mentioned, when I was young, I was working in Minnesota, where I’m from in the Minnesota Legislature and I was helping pass laws at the state level, that were removing toxic chemicals from consumer products. And I wasn’t alone in doing that there were other people like me in different states. And all of us every year, we’re kind of coordinating behind the scenes to pass legislation where number one, there was a big body of science. Number two, there was widespread exposure to toxic chemicals. And what we were doing at the state level is we were creating enough pressure to eventually create a tipping point where the federal government would have to act. And so that happened. And I was recruited to help start something pretty special in DC in 2009. Well called safer chemicals, healthy families, and as the nation’s largest coalition of companies and organizations working together to overhaul our federal laws on toxic chemicals. And so I packed at my house in Minneapolis and I moved to Washington DC and I worked with a really incredible mentor. And together with a lot of people, we created a grassroots movement that as you mentioned, led to one of the biggest overhauls of our toxic chemical regulations. Since the 1970s. And so we use all the tools from the kind of old school grassroots organizing tool book and the whole the power of the people still stand we we mobilize enough people to create enough pressure to get Congress to act. And the law certainly is not perfect, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
Benn Marine [5:20]
That’s amazing. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Like, what what are maybe some of the top lines that would help people kind of understand kind of the before and now after the passage of that law differences?
Lindsay Dahl [5:30]
Sure. So I think the best way to describe it is that if you think about all of the chemicals that make up things in our homes, our computers, our couches, our beds, children’s toys, model chemicals are bad, but some of them are. And there haven’t been major regulations that have been passed since the 1970s, to help the Environmental Protection Agency or Federal Agency overseeing toxic chemicals, which ones were safe and which rooms were unsafe. And so the status quo at the time was that toxic chemicals that were linked to cancer, harming the developing brain, or disrupting our hormone system, or chemicals, maybe you’ve heard about issues with chemicals like Teflon, which are using nonstick, they persist in the environment, they never leave. And a lot of the chemicals that were used in commerce at the time, were grandfathered in, when that original law was passed. So they were like, okay, everything after 1976 is going to be screened. But that in practice wasn’t happening. And so you had a bunch of grandfathered chemicals that were just given carte blanche, and then there wasn’t really anything happening after the 1970s. And so part of what we did is we collectively, the environmental, public health, environmental justice and business community, helped pass a law that basically gave the EPA some authority to be able to say, these chemicals are safe, and these chemicals are unsafe. And like I mentioned the law is not perfect, but it definitely now gives the EPA the ability to actually study and look at toxic chemicals in a way that they hadn’t been able to prior.
Benn Marine [5:44]
That’s really,really cool. If people want to read more about that or learn more, is there a spot or place they could go?
Lindsay Dahl [7:14]
I think the best place to go would be saferchemicals.org. That’s the nonprofit coalition that I mentioned that I used to work for, that’s really been spearheading that work. And they have a lot of good articles on their blog about both the challenges of implementing the law, but also the before and afterbreaking of laws.
Benn Marine [7:33]
I know Beautycounter has worked on a lot of legislation. I think you all and correct me if I’m wrong on this, but I believe y’all have passed over nine laws, three of which just happened in 2020. Can you share with us what the some of them were and why they’re significant?
Lindsay Dahl [7:48]
Sure.Yeah. I mean, it’s something we’re really proud of Beautycounter is a business and businesses lobby all the time. But it typically happens behind the scenes and businesses are traditionally asking, Congress to not regulate their industries. And one of the things I really admire about our CEO is that she had a vision early on to say, you know what, it’s not just, it’s not enough just to make clean beauty products, we also have to fix the system. And the way we fix the system is by passing laws that will remove these toxic chemicals from all beauty products. And so that’s part of the fun work that I’ve been able to do along with my team at beautycounter. And, as you mentioned, we’ve passed nine laws in the last eight years. And a few examples include, and county in the state of California, we’ve had very active few years, we helped pass a law that banned 24 of the most toxic chemicals from beauty products. And so we’ve already banned those from our formulations. But the cool thing about that is it’s not just going to impact products that are sold in the state of California. Since California is such a large economy, if you pass a piece of legislation in California, it becomes a de facto national ban. And so the result is that now manufacturers are going to have to start to formulate away from these 24 top toxic offenders. And I think it’s it’s exciting to show the power of when nonprofits and businesses can come together, we can actually make meaningful progress, and thereby making clean beauty more accessible to more people. Another law that we helped work on was the first step in closing what we call the fragrance loophole. So if you flip over your shave cream or your moisturizer, your toothpaste, you’ll see a list of ingredients. But oftentimes you’ll see the word of fragrance or perfume. And the reason for that is that the chemicals used to make up that fragrance are hidden from the consumer. And currently they’re protected by international IP laws. And so what we’ve helped do is pass a law that would require companies to disclose any harmful fragrance ingredients to the state of California and they’re going to make that public. So, it’s the first step to really give consumers visibility to understand if there are any harmful fragrance ingredients used and the products that they know and love. So those are a couple examples. But we’ve also done things to help create more transparency for salon workers who haven’t had access to ingredients in the products that they use, and so on every single day, we also helped pass the Hawaii Bill that banned oxybenzone and octinoxate, sensor and sunscreens. So we’ve been pretty active both at the state and the federal level.
Benn Marine [10:32]
That was really cool. That is really, really cool. I’m curious. To that end, do you have any advice for other businesses or other folks looking to kind of create change to kind of legislative means?
Lindsay Dahl [10:44]
You know, it’s, I think it’s something that is becoming much more comfortable for companies to do corporate activism, like I said, was really behind the scenes. It wasn’t a thing until about five years ago, and now it’s very in vogue, I would say to other companies wanting to get involved. Number one, it has to be authentic, it can’t be a marketing campaign. Oftentimes, I see companies try to like use it as a marketing tactic, I think you need to do it with the right intention behind it. Otherwise, customers are going to quickly sniff that out. Number two, it’s really good to engage in advocacy in a way that is germane to the products that you make. It doesn’t mean that companies can’t weigh in on other issues. But we found the most power when we can show up and say, hey, guess what we’re actually manufacturing products. And here’s what we can say about how it’s possible to make a safer or more sustainable version of the same product. I think there’s a lot of credibility and power in that. And I think also, the third thing I would piece of advice I would give to businesses is to find other companies. So we started at Beautycounter, what’s called the counteract Coalition where we invited a bunch of other clean beauty brands to join us in our advocacy work, knowing that not everyone has the bandwidth or capacity or internal expertise to do this type of lobbying work. And we’ve, we’ve kind of helped bring other what people would consider competitors. But we consider our allies in the clean beauty industry to help make our voices even louder. In Washington, DC.
Benn Marine [12:12]
That is so cool. And if folks want to learn more, is there a website for that? Or a place where people can learn more about that coalition?
Lindsay Dahl [12:17]
Yes, if you go to beautycounter.com/advocacy, you can read about all the laws that we helped pass and also about the contract coalition.
Benn Marine [12:25]
That is so cool. You I mean, Beautycounter also has some really great initiatives around safety standards as well. Can you talk to us a little bit about what the Blueprint For Clean is?
Lindsay Dahl [12:37]
Yeah, so the Blueprint For Clean are 12 different safety standards that we have that make us the leaders and clean. So it’s interesting, the clean beauty market is rapidly growing, which is great. It’s not something we’re threatened by, it’s something we’re encouraged and we hope continues to happen. And not all clean is created equal. So some companies are genuinely doing the hard work. And others are using the marketing term because it’s something that consumers want to see. We felt like it was really important to define exactly what clean means to Beautycounter on our on our website, which is why we created the blueprint for clean. So it includes everything from our ingredient screening process, how do we define what is safe, and make that clear to a consumer in a way that they can understand, to be able to say yes, Beautycounter is or is not the brand for me, we also outline our industry leading testing program. So for example, we test every single batch of color cosmetics for a suite of heavy metals before they go to the market. And the reason we do that is number one, it’s not common in the industry, I actually don’t know any other brands that are testing every batch for heavy metals. Heavy metals are naturally occurring, you can’t, you can’t avoid them. So if you see someone claiming to be 100%, lead free, that’s virtually impossible to do that what we want to do is we want to test every batch to make sure we have a good quality control and quality assurance program for our products to make sure that they’re really living up to our standards. And so those are the types of things that are outlined in our Blueprint For Clean. And also our approach to sustainable packaging and responsible sourcing. We really wanted to spell it out in detail. I think if you talk to any brand, marketing team or brand builder, they be like, Oh, you guys are telling the consumer way too much. But we’ve actually found that consumers really enjoy the transparency. And they want to know more people are asking, I’m certainly asking a lot harder questions than I was 5-10 years ago, of the businesses that I am purchasing from and want to support.
Benn Marine [14:38]
And I feel like it’s great too, because it sets such a great precedence for other businesses as well. And and for the industry as a whole. I think that’s great. Kind of taking that one step further. You also have the Never List. I’m curious what’s on it and why is it important for folks to be aware of the Nevers, if you will Never List.
Lindsay Dahl [14:58]
Yeah. So there’s a large body of science. Peer reviewed science from the last four decades, that shows us that certain ingredients used in beauty and personal care products are linked to harm, either harm for our health or the environment. And so the nevertheless, those really uses that body of science to say, if we can make a product without these questionable ingredients, let’s try. And so the Never List has over 1800 ingredients long their ingredients will never use in our formulation, we have a condensed version, what kind of top offenders that are on our website. So, if you’re curious about this, you can go to beautycounter.com. And check out the nevertheless and use that list to help you shop the market for other brands. And we add to it over time. So we both have taken some of governments have passed more stringent regulation than what we have here in the United States. We’ve taken those ban list, we’ve taken the peer reviewed research and our own safety screening. And we’ve built a list that helps us avoid some of those problematic chemicals. The thing I think is important is that a lot of people are talking about what they don’t put in their formulas. But what is more interesting to me as a consumer is, what do you put in your formula that I’m actually using? And how do you know that it’s safe? And that’s why we created a Blueprint For Clean to help answer that question.
Benn Marine [16:21]
Something that I thought was really interesting when I was on the beauty counter site and kind of learning about you all and how you operate was the amount of effort and energy that you put into physically auditing all of your mica mines. And I had no idea. Some of the practices that wouldn’t know mica or kind of this whole mica industry. Can you speak a little bit about about why it was so important for you to physically audit them and how you kind of came upon the social issues manifesting within the mica industry?
Lindsay Dahl [16:57]
Sure. So I just talked about how many ingredients we cannot use. So when we find a safe ingredients, like mica, which is widely used across all cosmetics, we want to make sure that it’s safe for human health. But we also want to make sure that those ingredients are safe for the people who are mining it. And mica is used if you think about the paint on your car, or all of our electronics, it’s used to spray the paint on the outside of airplanes is using really large quantities across different sectors. And the beauty industry is a relatively small user of mica and Beautycounter is as well. But something that we kind of take pride in is saying, you know what, here’s an opportunity. There have been a ton of research and kind of exposes around the use of child labor in the mica industry. And we wanted to go really deep to really understand if our micro supply chain was clean. Because we had all this documentation. All these suppliers we were sourcing from gave us paperwork that said this is child labor free. And we just asked a question. Like, let’s actually see if these pieces of paper are true, because anyone can create a Word document, sign it and send it to someone. And lo and behold, we started doing phone audits and a bunch of the suppliers, we dropped because they wouldn’t tell us where their Michael is coming from where they said, We actually don’t know where our mic is coming from. And to us the question was, well, if you don’t know where it’s coming from, how can you send me this piece of paper saying that, you know, it’s child labor free? Because the big thing we know, in supply chains is that secret supply chains are where human rights abuses can exist. And so we went on what was it’s worth still in process. But it was a two and a half year journey to hire auditors and we flew all across the world to visit the mind where people actually told us our mica was coming from to see firsthand and to audit those suppliers. And the process has been really grueling. Some suppliers passed and we use them and we prioritize them. Some needed some work. And so we’ve actually helped them transform their mining practices. Some of that work is underway right now. And then other suppliers, we just said, I’m sorry, we can’t use you anymore. And so we had to reformulate away from them, which is, for anyone who formulated the product, no one knows is a very big process. And so I think, you know, for a brand built on safety, it felt like we needed to make sure that people in our supply chain were also safe.
Benn Marine [19:26]
That makes a lot of sense. Beyond just the environmental impacts, you focus heavily on, you know, to your point impacts on people, both the end user but also the producers. I know Beautycounter has efforts to eradicate slavery and human trafficking in the supply chain. And I know we’ve touched on a little example within the realm of mica, but I’m curious how pervasive in the beauty industry are some of these human rights crimes?
Lindsay Dahl [19:51]
I think it’s not specific to the beauty industry. Virtually every industry is extracting something from somewhere and is that risk for human rights issues. And that feels really big and overwhelming, but it’s the honest truth. I remember I had the opportunity to fly to New York and meet and sit down with the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi. And he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to eradicate child labor. And he doesn’t just work in the beauty industry, he works across all industries. And I remember he said something that really stuck with me, he said, It’s truly impossible for any brand to claim to be child labor free, because it’s so hard to really fully tackle your entire supply chain. And he went on to say, I hope that we’re saying something different 10 to 20 years from now, and with companies rolling up their sleeves to do this work. I think that’s possible. But what he was trying to say is that no one’s really left untouched. And I think what we’ve tried to do, and the approach we’ve taken at Beautycounter, is to say, we have three ingredients that are safe to use for human health. So they pass are Never List, but they have high risk for human rights issues. So vanilla, palm, and mica. And we’re going to focus really closely on those three ingredients and try to really get to the bottom of our supply chain. And with vanilla and mica, we’ve done a really good job of that. Palm oil is used in so many different ways. And we’re still we’re trying to kind of muddle our way through that work. But I think the take home lesson for us is that a lot of brands kind of want to turn a blind eye and not ask these hard questions, because it really changes the way you operate. For us, we’re not trying to boil the ocean and take on too much, we’re really trying to do it in a focused way. But the process has been helpful, and we’re telling the journey publicly to hopefully inspire other brands to do the same. And I truly think we’re going to be in a really different place. 5, 10, 15 years down the road, when a bunch of companies have said, let’s try to make sure that our supply chain doesn’t have human rights abuses in it.
Benn Marine [21:55]
What advice do you have for businesses that might be listening that are like thinking, Oh, shoot, yeah, I guess I never really thought about x, y, z. ingredients, like how do you to your point is such a huge kind of overwhelming thing to think about and kind of wrap your arms around, where we’re, what’s the best way to kind of start and tackle that?
Lindsay Dahl [22:14]
I think there’s a couple resources there are, they’re helpful databases that can help you kind of look through the scientific literature to see if some of the chemicals you’re using in your products are high hazard. So an example of that would be a tool called cyberlm. And it’s a really helpful tool that brands can use to help them navigate that. The second thing I would say is that there’s a another third party tool called The Chemical Footprint Project. So similar to carbon footprinting, when you understand your carbon impacts, you can do that on the toxic chemical side as well. And the chemical footprint project is a tool that is designed for businesses to help tackle some of this, because it’s really industry specific. And the issues are different based on what products you’re creating.
Benn Marine [23:01]
Awesome. Oh, my goodness. Well, thank you so much for that. In addition to the work that Beautycounter is doing in all the areas we’ve talked about, you also donated over $655,000 to mission aligned organizations. I’m curious, how do you select what organizations you support? And what does that work look like?
Lindsay Dahl [23:18]
We really try to support organizations that are working on the same issues that we are. So a couple examples would be I just mentioned Kailash Satyarthi. He has an organization based in Washington DC working on child labor. So we’ve donated to them because it feels like a nice partnership based on the work we’re doing on the ground in India. We’ve also donated to some amazing environmental justice organizations like Black Woman For Wellness, who we worked with in the California Legislature to help pass some of these laws to protect women in particular from toxic chemicals in beauty products. And we’ve worked at the intersection with a lot of organizations that are trying to tackle some of the issues that we are and the future of business is very different than the type of business community that we grew up with. If you look at the markets, all of the companies that have some sort of social impact at the core of their business as the ones that are doing really well right now. And being a certified B Corp is a signal to the consumer, that that work is not just a marketing campaign, and that it’s it’s legit.
Benn Marine [24:25]
That’s super real. And speaking to kind of rewinding back to when we’re talking about the legislative work. It sounds like Beautycounter does work closely frequently with different nonprofits, whether it’s passing legislation or in your philanthropy. What does building those kind of meaningful relationships look like?
Lindsay Dahl [24:43]
Use the perfect word relationships, we think of it as a relationship and we really want to put in the time so you know, we’ve tried a kind of a variety of donation strategies, but the thing that really kind of resonates with us is sticking with organizations long term. Knowing that and one time funding is great. But if you can kind of understand and count on funding every year, that really makes the most impact for organizations to be able to do this work. Because as you would imagine, it’s it’s pretty uncommon to pass a law in one year, sometimes there are 1,2,3 to five year campaigns. And so that’s something we really kind of wanted to invest in. And we also, it’s just nice to work with people that you’re actively partnering with those, when you build those relationships, you can help maximize your impact, which I think is part of the reason that we were able to pass so many laws, especially in the state of California.
Benn Marine [25:41]
That’s great. Shifting gears a little bit to B Corp land. Talking about the B Corp certification process, I know you all certified back in 2013. Can you speak to why B Corp certification is something that Beautycounter continues to value?
Lindsay Dahl [25:55]
Yeah, I mean, I’m knee deep in our B Corp audit right now. So I’m feeling all things B Corp, the brand sees the power of having that third party recognition of a brand’s commitment to people, planet and profit. And this concept of a triple bottom line versus a singular bottom line that only looks at profits is one that is increasingly resonating with consumers. And we see there’s a lot of power, because I know certainly when I’m shopping the market, if I see some brand is a certified B Corp. I know that they take care of their employees, they have good benefits for them, they take care of the environment, they have a handle on their supply chain in a meaningful way. Like it signals so many things to me, because the B Corp assessment is so comprehensive. And so I think it’s an it’s really important for us as a brand to maintain that certification and to invest the time to continue to hit those marks that they’re asking us to. Because again, the the future of business is very different than the type of business community that we grew up with. If you look at the market, all of the companies that have some sort of social impact at the core of their business as the ones that are doing really well right now. And being a certified B Corp is a signal to the consumer, that that work is not just a marketing campaign, and that it’s it’s legit.
Benn Marine [27:22]
And to your point, the B Impact Assessment I know is a beast, we just recently kind of worked our way through it. What advice do you have for folks that are maybe considering it? Or are you know, maybe just toe deep and getting started? Like what is your advice for tackling the the B impact assessment.
Lindsay Dahl [27:39]
So one of the things I love is that you can do the B Impact Assessment online at any time without officially going through the process. So I actually was recently talking to a startup who was saying, Oh, we eventually want to become a Certified B Corp. But we’re so small, should we invest the time and resources. And my response was, maybe not in the beginning, if you’re really that small, but use the online tool, because it will help you build your business in a way that is socially responsible. And so, so much of what the it means to be a Certified B Corp has to do with how your business governance is set up. What’s the diversity of your board, and I think it’s, it’s so helpful that they have this tool online for you to do it for free. Because it helps you when you’re building your business to do so in a way that eventually when you have more time and resources, you can actually go for the for the certification without having to redo a bunch of really critical things of how your business is set up.
Benn Marine [28:36]
As soon as you like you make a great point about it, it really being a resource, really, I mean that people can use it, you know, maybe they’re not ready to certify yet. But it’s a great place to go at least get ideas like what should be in our health insurance plan, or you know what to include, right? Like, just like, I know, for us when we were looking through it, there were just some things were like, Oh my gosh, of course that makes so much sense. But we just hadn’t thought of it, you know? Yeah. So that’s a great point. For sure.
Lindsay Dahl [29:01]
That’s exactly right. It can it can be kind of a checklist to your point of like, Okay, I’m putting together in a, an employee handbook or manual, like what are the things that we need to really make sure. And sometimes when you’re kind of in the thick of actually trying to build a product or get a brand up, you forget about some of these things behind the scenes that are actually really critical to things that are somewhat boring, but also really important, like what is the governance structure of your corporation?
Benn Marine [29:30]
Yeah, or how do you make decisions on XYZ, you know, purchasing or whatnot.
Lindsay Dahl [29:35]
Benn Marine [29:36]
What advice do you have for others, whether they’re in business or not looking to create change and raise standards, kind of in their industries or areas of work the same way the Beautycounter has?
Lindsay Dahl [29:48]
I think Don’t try to tackle everything at once.Find things that are really specific to whatever products you’re trying to put into the market and think about where you would have have the biggest impact and start there, you know, a good example would be Beautycounter really built our product line of at the intersection of creating clean beauty products that also work. And so the intersection of safe products that are high performing was really our niche. And we always cared about the environment. And we always cared about sustainability. But it was something we didn’t really mean, like tackle on a massive, meaningful way until three years ago. And because there’s just no way we could have done it all right out of right out of the gate. And so, you know, and then since we’ve tackled sustainability, we’ve been looking at our packaging, we’ve been looking at sourcing, and I think, just trying to play the long game and understanding that creating positive impact doesn’t happen overnight. And it’s better to do less things well than to do a million things poorly.
Benn Marine [30:51]
That’s so true. That’s very true. What are some criteria that consumers should be looking for when they’re shopping for what we might call responsibly different beauty products, so kind of to your point, you know, that they’re safe, and that they work well. S
Lindsay Dahl [31:07]
First, people can check out the condensed Never List on beautycounter.com website. And you can see if any of those ingredients are in the ingredients, or in the products that you’re using. Another helpful tool is Environmental Working Groups, skin deep database, and you can pop in which products you’re using, and it ranks them on a scale from one to 10. And that tool isn’t perfect, because trying to completely package all the complicated science in a in an algorithm isn’t always possible. But I do think it’s an important first step for people to start to kind of understand what is safer. And I think the third thing is to never be afraid to ask companies questions. So if you email their general customer service line, companies really respond to what types of questions they’re getting. And the goal is that they’re going to be transparent with you. And I think transparency is something that consumers really want today. And don’t be afraid to ask those hard questions.
Benn Marine [32:07]
Anything else that you want to impart on listeners that we haven’t touched on yet, or you haven’t had an opportunity to talk about?
Lindsay Dahl [32:13]
You know, Ithink the biggest thing I want people to know is that there’s, there’s two things. today’s world is so politically divided, it’s like, there has to be a side for everything. And I think they’re, I think it’s both on companies, for those companies listening, who maybe want to get involved in corporate activism, there’s a way to engage in advocacy in a way that really unites people from very different backgrounds. And everyone thinks everything’s political, so you’re never gonna make everyone happy. And that’s okay. But we’ve really used our brand’s platform and our issue as a way to unite people from all different political parties around a singular issue, which is removing toxic chemicals from beauty products. And I think there’s a way to do this work well, that can really resonate with a lot of consumers. And then the second is to just for anyone listening, never underestimate the power of a single phone call to your member of Congress, I think people feel like oh, companies kind of control everything that happens in DC, or Oh, it’s just a bunch of bureaucrats and all you know, there’s so many stories about what happens or doesn’t happen in DC. And one of the things I have seen as a through line for my whole career, is that when people make phone calls, or they send emails to their elected officials, when enough people do it, over time, things change. And it has been the most helpful thing that I have found in my career. I thought originally that diving into politics, I would become more jaded, but actually, I found tremendous amount of optimism, just seeing firsthand how elected officials change how they feel about issues, when people will call. So never be afraid. Most of the times, you’re going to hit a friendly staffer who’s probably 21 years old, or you’ll have a voicemail, so you’re not actually going to get the senator picking up the phone call to to hear your message. And it’s low pressure, and it takes less than two minutes.
Benn Marine [34:06]
That’s awesome. Are there any bills that you are currently working on now that people can lend their voices to?
Lindsay Dahl [34:12]
Yes, we’re actually working on six bills, but I won’t bore you with the details of them. But what one thing you can do that takes just a minute and you can do it via text, is you can text to the number 52886betterbeauty all one word. And what we will do is we’ll send you a link in your text message to fill out and send an email asking for your senator support of the Personal Care Product Safety Act, which would help tackle some of the big issues right now in the beauty industry. So the number again is 52886. And you just type in better beauty into your text chat. And we’ll send you a link. It’s pretty slick.
Benn Marine [34:51]
That’s amazing. And that’s at the federal level. It is. Oh, that’s awesome. Oh, that’s really really cool. Oh my goodness. Thank you so much Lindsay for your time. This has been amazing and super helpful, and I’m sure it’s gonna have a huge impact on folks. So thank you so much.
Lindsay Dahl [35:08]
Thank you for having me. And thanks for telling our story, I really appreciate it.
Benn Marine [35:11]
In this episode, Lindsay shared the power of reaching out to your legislators. And there are a lot of great and impactful ways to do that. Myself, as a former political field director, I can tell you those methods do work. So Below are some really great ways that you can get involved and have a huge impact. First and foremost vote in every election. And the smaller and more local the election, the more weight your ballot has. Not only are you directly impacting the outcome of who gets elected, referendums, bonds, and those policies that directly impact you and your community. You’re also building a voting record as a good voter who votes consistently. And that makes it even more powerful. When you take some of these other actions and reach out to your legislators. It gives that much more power to your voice. Call and leave a message for your elected officials, you’ll likely be talking to a legislative aide or leaving a voicemail message. So it’s super low pressure. When you leave your message, all you need to do is clearly state what you want your legislator to do. Like how you want them to vote on a particular bill, or a particular stance, you want them to take on an issue. And the more specific you can be the better. And be sure to state your name and address where you are registered to vote. So they know you are a voting constituent of theirs. A nice touch is if you can add why it’s important to you keep it brief. And in fact, we’ll even put a little script in the show notes that you can use. If you’re feeling a little stuck on what to say, send an email or a handwritten note, you can follow the same script as with the voicemail, but it does give you a little bit more room to expand on your wife. And bonus points. You can do both leaving a message and writing an email. And the more of these things that you do. Again, it just builds more power. Request a constituent meeting Did you know you can actually request a meeting with your representative? Yep, you totally can. It doesn’t mean that they will always take the meeting. And if there’s a particular issue that is impacting you directly that you feel super passionately about. It could also be helpful to find out what organizations are also working on the same issue. Share with those organizations your story and that you’re willing to meet with your legislators because they might be able to help facilitate making that happen. Write a letter to the editor. writing letters to your local papers can help raise awareness but also amplify the other efforts on the ground creating a sense of the community at large cares about a particular issue. Most importantly, it is true the saying we are stronger together. I encourage you to find organizations working on the same issues you are passionate about. And reach out to them and see how you can support their efforts. volunteer with them. phonebank knock doors, those methods are incredibly effective. And last, but not least, do it all with a buddy. Accountability buddies are the best. If you can find a friend or family member co worker and invite them into the work with you. It just makes it that much more fun. And you’re essentially multiplying your impact by two. So by asking a friend to join you, you’re literally doubling your efforts while making it more fun. I want to thank you so much for tuning into this episode of responsibly different, I’m excited to announce that starting next month we’ll be sending out a monthly newsletter. And in that newsletter, we’re going to include a habit change tip of the month. So one small habit change that you can make to improve your corner of the world, a business of the month. So we’re going to highlight a certified B corporate social enterprise that we think you should know about that maybe you haven’t heard of before. And then we’re going to share with you some podcast highlights from the episodes produced that month. And again, last but not least a roundup of resources released that month, which if you didn’t already know we do produce weekly articles and resources. And all of those things will get sent right to your inbox at the end of each month. If this sounds awesome, and you’re super stoked about it, head on over to responsiblydifferent.com forward slash support and fill out your email and name in that form at the bottom of the page. Easy as pie. Next time on responsibly different we talk about carbon offsets with CEO and founder of trip zero, Eric Zimmerman.
Eric Zimmerman [36:01]
As you go through certification, it’s not just a gate to get through, but it’s an opportunity to stop and ask yourself questions about the way you’re running your company and the way you ought to be running your company.
Benn Marine [39:42]
Till next time, be responsibly different. This is a production of Dirigo Collective Claire Closson is our Project Manager Jeremy Glass is our Writer. The music is an original score by our very own Kevin Oates and, I, Ben Marine. I’m your host and editor. To learn more about Dirigo Collective visit dirigocollective.com