Updated: Nov 16
As we enter into a new year we wanted to re-introduce our current SHE marks for those who might not be familiar as there’s a lot more than meets the eye. In this blog post, we’ll be putting a specific focus on what makes our marks the most inclusive and diverse set of gender-focused certification marks on the market. We know that’s a mouthful so let us break it all down for you below…
Certification marks have become increasingly popular across the globe. They are featured on product packaging, in-store advertisements, billboards, marketing materials - you name it. If you’re saying to yourself - what are they talking about? We encourage you to take a close look at the packaging of food items in your grocery store. You’ll be sure to find at least a few. If you do know what we’re talking about, you might not have known the official name for those labels/seals/logos.
So, let’s start with the basics and define what a certification mark is.
Third party verification of information about a company or product
Certification Marks are symbols or logos used by certification organizations to indicate that a product or company has met certain standards or requirements. Most often, certification marks show that a company has met requirements regarding the sourcing of products, the method of manufacturing, or the labor force relied upon.
What’s great about certification marks is that it makes purpose-washing more difficult. “Purpose washing” refers to campaigns, companies, or products that use manipulative language and marketing tactics to insinuate that buying from them will have a positive impact on the world, all while not having any measurable, positive impact. For example, if a company releases a “green surface cleaner” that is exactly the same as their standard surfaces cleaner but just says “green” all over the packaging - a less wary consumer might assume that the product is more sustainable than the company’s standard product, and this incorrect assumption is exactly the point of purpose-washing.
Allowing a third party to come in to review and, most importantly, verify information and impact gives belief driven buyers a sense of security when supporting businesses - you know you can trust the values marketed to you when you can trust the organization that verifies the information.
Certified B Corp, Fair Trade Certified, Certified Cruelty-Free, and 1% for the Planet are some common certification marks that have grown in popularity and use over the last several years. Others you may have seen or heard of include UL certification for electronics, Woolmark for fabrics, or FSC for packaging and paper goods. Most certification organizations are privately held organizations, although some are run by governing entities. In the US, Certified Organic is a popular one that is issued by the USDA.
A gender-focused certification mark tells you something about women’s involvement in a company. The SHE Marks fall into this category.
Women in business have historically been undervalued and underrepresented in positions of impact, making it more important than ever to highlight companies that are women-led. At the same time, people care more than ever about where they spend their time and money, and how it affects the world around them (cue certification marks). The SHE Mark bridges these societal and individual needs, making gender equality an everyone issue.
The SHE Marks
Now that you know what a certification mark is - let’s introduce you to our first set of marks.
We currently offer three certification marks that verify that a company has at least 50% inclusion of women and/or gender diverse people in management, creative roles, and/or ownership.
You’ll notice that we mention gender diverse people in our definition, and that’s because we are inclusive of those individuals! We are all about feminism at The SHE Mark, meaning we are working towards social, political, and economic equality for all genders. Gender diverse individuals (gender nonbinary, agender, genderfluid, genderqueer, two-spirit, etc.) are included in the count towards the 50+% to qualify for a SHE Mark.
You may have also noticed that our standards begin at 50% - this is another intentional way in which the SHE Marks are inclusive. We want to include companies that feature gender parity as well as those that have a higher representation of women and gender diverse people in various areas of leadership and impact.
Let’s get to know each mark a little better, shall we?
Our SHEruns mark indicates that there are 50+% women and/or gender diverse people in management. This mark answers the question - are women in charge at the company?
Many reports and research have shown that women enter the workforce in relatively equal numbers to men, but as you go up the ladder of power the participation and representation of women sharply drops. McKinsey & Co. does a great job of tracking and visualizing this data in their annual Women in the Workplace report. While the numbers are disappointing and a lot of progress still needs to be made, there are many companies who are doing their part today to change that statistic. SHEruns was created to highlight and honor those companies, and provide them with a way to proudly communicate that effort and accomplishment to the public.
It was important for us to include this mark in our collection because we understand that the vast majority of women interact with the workplace as employees and we believe that those women deserve to be recognized. Having women in positions of power at a company not only makes room for women below them to come up, it also has been proven to increase revenues, innovation, employee retention, sustainable decision making, and more - similar to how increased diversity positively impacts a company (Source: International Labor Organization)!
One of the exciting and unexpected things about our SHEruns mark (and SHEmakes mark…more on that later) is that male-owned companies can qualify and be certified. The SHE Mark believes that gender equality is an everyone issue and that the only way we are going to reach true gender equity in the workplace and beyond is if we include men in the movement.
Our SHEmakes mark indicates that there are 50+% women and/or gender diverse people in creative roles. This mark answers the question - are women involved in the creation, innovation, or design of this product or service?
This mark looks beyond just employees in leadership roles - and highlights employees across the company that hold creative roles. A “creative” role is one that innovates or creates, and/or generates or develops original products or ideas. This could include more obvious creative positions such as fashion designers, choreographers, graphic designers, marketers, etc. OR less obvious ones, like software engineers, baristas, sous-chefs, etc.
The SHEmakes mark is particularly great for businesses in the makers community (obviously) and the restaurant and STEM (science, tech, engineering, and mathematics) industries (not-so-obviously), if we do say so ourselves!
Why is the SHEmakes mark important? Well, most creative roles are responsible for the part of the business that interacts with the public and we think that the people in those roles should accurately reflect the population they are serving (although we only certify in the gender space, we believe that goes for diversity too).
As stated above, male-owned companies are able to apply and be Certified SHEmakes™.
Our SHEowns mark indicates that there are 50+% women and/or gender diverse people with ownership equity. This mark answers the question - does a woman own or co-own this company?
This mark is our most straightforward of the three. There is one thing, however, that makes it unique and that is that we start our qualification for the mark at 50% - true equality (as opposed to the more common 51%, representing women holding a majority).
Did you know that majority woman-owned businesses make up 42% of all entities in the US? And that number is on the rise! Did you also know that 7% of all entities in the US are gender-equally co-owned (50/50)? Add that up and women own 49% of all businesses in the United States! Unfortunately, those businesses only see about 4% of revenues on average, compared to male-owned businesses (Source: American Express 2019 State of Women Owned Businesses Report).
We thought it was imperative to be inclusive of those gender-equally co-owned businesses and give them the opportunity to highlight and market themselves as a woman-owned business, because, well…that’s what they are!