Rihanna's billionaire success is a testament to unbridled inclusivity - and a case study for CEOs.
Rihanna's financial success is largely based on the companies she has built. Vianney Le Caer / Invision / AP
In August, Forbes reported that Rihanna's net worth exceeded $ 1.7 billion.
On September 24th, the billionaire presented various models in a fashion show.
Rihanna's commitment to diversity and inclusion in her business strategy is a lesson for CEOs.
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A high school student in the mid-1990s, Kailei Carr shopped at various drug stores looking for the perfect foundation for her tan skin, but went back empty-handed. Even the darkest color available was at least three shades too light.
It wasn't until years later that she found brands like MAC that contained her shade. Even so, Carr felt her tan skin was just an afterthought to most of the light options.
That changed in 2017 when music mogul Rihanna unveiled her Fenty makeup line, which spanned 40 shades from mahogany brown to pearly white. And Fenty's marketing focused exclusively on People of Color. Carr quickly became a loyal user.
"I wasn't just getting involved. As a black woman, I was centered," Carr, CEO of Asbury Group, a diversity consultancy, told Insider. "She has conquered a market."
And it was worth it. In August, Forbes reported that Rihanna's net worth was $ 1.7 billion, the majority of which came from her retail empire, which includes $ 2.8 billion makeup company Fenty. Her lingerie brand Savage X Fenty promotes luxury and body diversity in equal parts. The Grammy-winning singer also released a skin care line, Fenty Skin, last year.
Rihanna's financial success with Fenty is testament to the potential of inclusivity. At a time when representation is no longer optional, company executives are being urged to show that they value and respect people of all origins and skin colors.
"She saw the need, the opportunity in society and put a team together. She had the strength to develop these products in such a convincing way," said Carr. "She centered inclusivity."
Rihanna's work is set to hit the headlines again soon. Their third annual Savage X Fenty fashion show will be held on September 24th and will feature a cast of queer, transgender and BIPOC models. It will be the latest show of how much the business mogul prioritizes diversity.
Editor's Note: This is an updated version of an article originally published in August.
Start with diversity and inclusion
Rihanna is doing makeup for a Fenty Beauty model in 2018. Mark Ganzon / Getty Images for Fenty Beauty
Rihanna's success depends on Priorities, according to Susan Harmeling, who teaches at the Marshall School of Business and is a co-founder of the Equitas Advisory Group, a consultancy on diversity, equity and inclusion.
"Diversity is everything for this brand and its success," said Harmeling.
This is evidenced by the variety of products offered by Rihanna's brands, the affordable prices, inclusive and conscious marketing, and the way she talks about her brands, Harmeling and Carr said.
Savage X Fenty offers lingerie in sizes from extra small to three times extra large. His slogan is: "Underwear for every body". And it offers lingerie at affordable prices with items starting at $ 5. At Fenty, “meat” or “nude” doesn't just mean white.
"It's about having a lens of inclusion at every level," said Carr. "That is what it does that other leaders can look to."
Diversity and inclusion are not just noble reasons; They are also what customers, investors, and potential employees are increasingly looking for, according to a growing body of research.
"Diversity is good for business, period," said Harmeling.
Challenge the status quo
Before Savage X Fenty, Victoria's Secret was the giant in the industry. It prioritized ultra-thin, mostly white, models with the occasional plus-size or color models.
Rihanna flipped the script to show plus-size models, transgender models, models in drag, models with limb differences, and models who are short people.
Business leaders should rethink who their products and services primarily serve and look for ways to serve others, Carr and Harmeling said.
"Rihanna democratized beauty and lingerie. And when you democratize and humanize, what you're doing is very pragmatic and very for-profit because you're expanding your market," Harmeling said.
Build diverse and inclusive teams
Only 8% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and even fewer are black, but corporate leaders like Rihanna are changing that.
"I would guess your team is very diverse," said Carr.
Harmeling agreed, saying that great business ideas often result from discussions between people from different backgrounds.
“Make sure you have a diverse team and with that diverse team discuss what will and won't work,” she said. "Diversity expands your market. That's a win."
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