There are certifications for everything: crops that aren't genetically-modified, makeup that wasn't tested on animals, clothing made without child labor, coffee that provides farmers with steady wages. Now, there's another, given to companies that treat their female employees fairly.
This morning brought the announcement that L’Oréal USA is the first U.S. company to pin an Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) certification to its corporate vest, indicating its commitment to gender equality in the workplace. The evaluation process involved interviewing 3,000 of L'Oréal's 10,000 U.S. employees, and EDGE found that the company's hiring practices, mentorship programs, and demographic data passed muster. (EDGE apparently doesn't hold companies to any specific quotas.)
L’Oréal says that, for now, the designation won’t be consumer-facing, rather "an internal blueprint" for cementing gender equality into the company's culture. That said, for other certified companies, affixing labels to products is "certainly an option," a spokesperson from EDGE told me. Would consumers be more loyal to companies that use labels to indicate their commitment to gender equality?
“I am skeptical,” says Nicola Misani, a researcher at Italy’s Bocconi University who co-authored a paper in 2009 on consumers' perceptions of Fair Trade products. “Consumers tend to be confused by the great number and variety of labels they already find on products…and introducing one more would probably add to the jumble.”