Texan by Nature is excited to recognize Mary Kay as a 2023 TxN 20 honoree for their leadership in conservation and sustainability. Mary Kay’s commitment to conservation, their projects, programs, best practices, and lessons learned are an example and inspiration for us all.
Honoree Industry: Retail – Enterprise
Then. Now. Always. One of the original glass ceiling breakers, Mary Kay Ash founded her dream beauty brand in Texas in 1963 with one goal: to enrich women’s lives. That dream has blossomed into a global company with millions of independent sales force members in more than 35 countries. For 60 years, the Mary Kay opportunity has empowered women to define their own futures through education, mentorship, advocacy, and innovation. Mary Kay is dedicated to investing in the science behind beauty and manufacturing cutting-edge skincare, color cosmetics, nutritional supplements, and fragrances. Mary Kay believes in preserving our planet for future generations, protecting women impacted by cancer and domestic abuse, and encouraging youth to follow their dreams. Learn more at marykayglobal.com, find us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, or follow us on Twitter.
What is your conservation and sustainability mission and why is it important to Mary Kay’s culture?
From the day Mary Kay opened its doors in 1963, our business has reflected the Golden Rule values of our founder. Mary Kay Ash was a woman of enormous business savvy who understood how to lead with her heart. Her commitment to Go-Give action shaped every decision. Mary Kay’s commitments to sustainable growth and transparency exemplify corporate responsibility, they also reflect a legacy of action we’ve been building for 60 years. Mary Kay’s comprehensive approach to sustainability builds a picture of what good “looks like” for Mary Kay, Independent Beauty Consultants and their customers, and the planet. Our program was developed with our key stakeholders and is aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, making Mary Kay a key part of a global coalition to ensure a better future.
We divided our Mary Kay approach into five pillars: business excellence, product stewardship, responsible manufacturing, women’s empowerment, and social impact. Sustainability in its wider meaning— environmental, social, economic—is indeed a principle that has deep roots in the Mary Kay story, becoming part of our Company culture over the years. We are conscious of our actions today and are committed to intentional and sustainable initiatives to address the global challenges threatening future generations.
How is conservation and sustainability a part of Mary Kay’s business strategy?
Mary Kay views sustainability as the natural path for the future. Sustainability is a key strategy for our business, enabling us to drive responsible growth and create new opportunities for shared success. Our approach to sustainability provides the deep foundations we need to support our business strategy to be a world-class organization. Sustainability in its wider meaning—environmental, social, economic—is indeed a principle that has deep roots in the Mary Kay story, becoming part of our Company culture over the years. We are proud to say that being a positive influence on society has been Mary Kay’s promise for 60 years. In a time of constant change, keeping sustainability as the consistent bedrock of our approach to doing business is not only right for society, but it is also critically important to our success, which will help us navigate through all the changes to come.
When Mary Kay Ash said she wanted to change the world, this included protecting it for future generations. Because she embraced those values, Mary Kay has been making systematic changes across our operations and value chain for nearly 60 years with the goal of becoming a more sustainable business. We’ve made significant progress—but there’s still work to be done and together we can accomplish our goals.
– DEBORAH GIBBINS, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER FOR MARY KAY
What are your Mary Kay’s short and long-term goals as they relate to conservation and sustainability?
We are challenging ourselves to further embed sustainable practices in our business through product development, design, responsible sourcing, and mitigation of plastic pollution. We strive to continuously improve the profile of our products. We are committed to ensuring our sourced products are obtained in a responsible and sustainable way by addressing environmental and ethical factors in our supply chain.
We strive to reduce our carbon footprint each and continuously update and improve on our goals—one of which is related to plastics & packaging and decreasing the plastic intensity of our product portfolio. Since 2020, we’ve reduced nearly 500,000 pounds of plastic in our packaging. There’s still work to do, and we have identified additional steps we can take to reduce plastic while delivering a quality product.
Socially responsible manufacturing is the right thing to do, and it also makes good business sense. Mary Kay is committed to the safety of our people by developing effective health and safety processes and ensuring our buildings operate efficiently, sustainably, and safely.
In 2022, Mary Kay had ZERO employee incidents at its global manufacturing facility in Texas. Mary Kay’s global manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and China also continue to: operate as zero landfill sites, implement its recycling programs for materials such as cardboard, and identify opportunities to become better stewards of shared resources such as water.
Mary Kay supports conservation efforts in Texas and around the world. Mary Kay has partnered with The Nature Conservancy to support a program that will assess the feasibility of blue carbon markets to support long-term wetland management needs in Texas.
Who at Mary Kay is leading your conservation and sustainability efforts and what are some examples of employee engagement in conservation and sustainability at your company?
As Chief Operating Officer, Deborah Gibbins has broad responsibility for Mary Kay’s product strategy, research and development, supply chain, financial operations, and information technology. She has been an invaluable executive champion for sustainability at Mary Kay especially as it relates to environmental topics such as responsible manufacturing and product stewardship.
Mary Kay employees are on the front lines leading and implementing our sustainability program. Throughout our 60-year history, and most recently, we’ve had a lot of momentum around sustainability at Mary Kay and that would not have been possible without employees spearheading environmental efforts around responsible manufacturing and product stewardship.
Our dedicated employees ensure continuation of Mary Kay’s existing sustainability programs, such as:
Mary Kay employees also lead internal teams committed to creating and implementing sustainability initiatives. Most recently, Mary Kay launched an employee Water Steering Committee at R3, which is responsible for implementing water stewardship principles into Mary Kay’s manufacturing process and is committed to applying the Alliance for Water Stewardship standard at the global manufacturing facility.
The water steering committee’s focus areas include:
Mary Kay’s continued support of TNC’s Global Oceans and Super Reefs programs allows researchers to assess reef health, identify potential super reef locations, and discuss opportunities to improve reef management locally.
What conservation and sustainability programs and projects does Mary Kay lead and participate in?
Mary Kay has many programs and projects that speak to our sustainability efforts, both within our operations and in local communities around the world. A few examples are:
Cardboard and Paper
Mary Kay’s global manufacturing facility as well as other Texas facilities have recycling programs for materials such as cardboard. To complement this ongoing program, Mary Kay received certification from the Forest Stewardship Council in 2022. The certification applies to Mary Kay’s Print and Digital Imaging Centers located at its global corporate headquarters and regional distribution center located in North Texas. This achievement confirms Mary Kay’s commitment to supporting responsible forestry by using 100% FSC recycled materials or FSC mix paper sources for commercial printing, primarily for paper inserts for products exported globally.
Arbor Day Foundation
This year, Mary Kay celebrates a 15-year partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation. Mary Kay and the Arbor Day Foundation’s partnership began in 2008 with Mary Kay independent beauty consultants engaging in a recycling program where a tree was planted in a forest of need for every old compact recycled. Thanks to a national recycling effort by Independent Beauty Consultants and their customers, as well as the Company’s employees, Mary Kay exceeded the collection goal of 200,000 old compacts.
To date, Mary Kay and the Arbor Day Foundation have planted 1.3 million trees through its partnership and continue to work toward future impact with an additional 100,000 trees this year. 2023 reforestation projects include:
The Nature Conservancy
Mary Kay has a long-term partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to support ocean conservation and coral reef protection. Mary Kay’s continued support of TNC’s Global Oceans and Super Reefs programs allows researchers to assess reef health, identify potential super reef locations, and discuss opportunities to improve reef management locally. Through its partnership with TNC, Mary Kay has also elevated women’s leadership in marine conservation to sustain programs that build gender equity into conservation efforts.
Through its partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Mary Kay supports wetland protection and restoration along the Gulf of Mexico. Texas has lost more than half of its coastal wetlands in the past 200 years to habitat conversion, overgrazing and development. Coastal wetlands provide the trifecta of climate wins: carbon capture, adaptation to sea-level rise, and increased resiliency to storms and flooding, all while supporting local and national economies.
How do you see the future of conservation and sustainability evolving, and what role will Mary Kay play in that progress?
Mary Kay’s sustainability practices and programs have evolved tremendously over the years as business and consumer demands change. We continue to build, pivot and reassess sustainability measures for our business to help position us for the future.
We expect sustainability to continue to be even more holistic in the future, and for companies and individuals to look at sustainability comprehensively as it relates to different communities. At Mary Kay, we support women leaders that spearhead environmental efforts and support initiatives that embed principles that reduce barriers for women environmental leaders and help promote nature-based solutions locally.
The concept of benefit sharing is becoming more popular in the global discourse of sustainability. To Mary Kay this means engaging diverse stakeholders to become agents of change for women’s empowerment and ensuring women have access and opportunities across our value chain and can benefit from investments in community programs.
Looking toward the future, Mary Kay wants to better support and create a greater capacity for women to benefit from environmental efforts as they relate to bringing economic opportunities back to their communities. Our ongoing support of TNC projects are a great example of how we achieve conservation success, gender equality, and economic empowerment around the globe.
Prior projects included initiatives to:
How does Mary Kay quantify investment and return on conservation and sustainability?
At Mary Kay, we place a focus on quantifying our investment in conservation and sustainability, understanding that it involves a comprehensive assessment of various factors, including financial, human resources and natural assets.
Our commitment to environmental responsibility is rooted in both ethical principles and financial sustainability. To remain a financially robust and ethically responsible company while offering our Independent Beauty Consultants (IBC) the most rewarding opportunity, we must align with the evolving trends related to green and environmental initiatives. These trends are not only driven by customer demand but also by our invaluable salesforce.
By providing our IBCs with sustainable products, we empower them to bolster their businesses while adhering to eco-friendly values. As we adapt to the environmental expectations of our salesforce and customers, we simultaneously innovate our product offerings, ensuring they meet the desires of both our IBCs and their clients.
Our global presence entails sourcing ingredients from diverse corners of the world while maintaining local manufacturing facilities. We are unwavering in our commitment to operate our business in a manner that is not only ethical but also sustainable AND creates value for the communities we operate in, underpinned by our core principles of the golden rule and community enrichment.
What is the one lesson that Mary Kay has learned from your conservation and sustainability efforts that others can take back and think about applying within their own space?
One significant lesson we’ve learned from our extensive experience in conservation and sustainability is the ever-evolving nature of the field. As an established global corporation, we understand the increasing importance of collective efforts in fostering sustainability. However, we’ve encountered a notable challenge in the availability of post-consumer recycled materials for sustainable packaging.
Manufacturing facilities like ours strive to maintain product quality and increase the sustainability of their product packaging by utilizing recycled materials. Yet, as more companies embrace sustainability, the demand for these materials surges, often outpacing supply. This web of supply chains presents a complex scenario, and the availability of such materials can be uncertain.
Our key takeaway is the necessity for adaptability and the continuous pursuit of alternative options when faced with material shortages. It’s a challenge that manufacturers across industries must grapple with. While sustainability is our shared goal, navigating the intricacies of supply and demand remains a real-world challenge. We encourage others embarking on similar sustainability journeys to anticipate and address these supply chain complexities to ensure the continued success of their sustainability initiatives. In a world where resources are finite, collaboration and flexibility will be crucial in advancing our collective sustainability efforts.
Why is Texas an important home or base of operations for Mary Kay?
Mary Kay is a Texas-based company. On September 13, 1963, Mary Kay began in a 500-square-foot storefront in Dallas. Today our global headquarters is located in Addison, our global manufacturing and R&D facility is in Lewisville, and we also have two distribution centers in the Dallas area.
Since the beginning, Mary Kay has manufactured its products in Texas. In 2018, Mary Kay broke ground on a new state of the art facility – the Richard R. Rogers global manufacturing and research and development facility, also known as R3. R3 takes its full name from Mary Kay’s cofounder – Mary Kay Ash’s son – Richard R. Rogers, who was instrumental in helping Mary Kay Ash realize her dream of empowering women.
Mary Kay’s manufacturing facility is led by dedicated STEM professionals committed to science-based innovation and product safety. R3 has allowed us to innovate and increase production capacity and efficiency to better serve Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultants in the U.S. and worldwide. R3 is also a testimony to the faith we have in the continued success of Mary Kay’s dream and our commitment to local, Texas manufacturing.
Learn more information on Mary Kay’s conservation and sustainability efforts here.
To advance women’s leadership in the fishing industry in Mexico through eight programs and projects implemented by The Nature Conservancy
Such as energy efficient lighting, thermal controls, and purchasing renewable energy for electricity consumed through 2021.
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas