5 Companies That Are Investing in Tomorrow's Leaders

All entrepreneurs have the potential to be strong mentors. The elements of success: hard work, determination, and passion are excellent skills to model to younger generations.

The most common form of mentorship happens at the community level. Teachers and local leaders often run programs at schools, colleges, or community sites. But this takes an incredible amount of time and energy. And communities without strong leaders face a lack of resources and options. The following companies are taking an active role on a national level. Their mission? Find and develop the next generation of empowered leaders who will help make the world a better place.


1. Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War: Girls Reforming The Future Challenge


Marvel Studio’s wide fan base is dedicated to its universe of films, comics, and television shows. But it’s not just males who are tuning in to catch the latest blockbuster movie featuring popular superheroes. Thanks to Marvel’s dedication in featuring strong female heroines, their fanbase of women is large, and growing. And they’re not stopping at showcasing on-screen heroes. This year, Marvel Studio has released a unique challenge targeted to teenage girls.

The process? Applicants upload a world-changing idea in the form of a video to Marvel’s website. The reward? 5 finalists will have the opportunity to present their ideas to a panel of science and technology industry leaders. One finalist will receive an internship opportunity with Marvel Studios.

Why this is revolutionary: For years, the STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) has been an industry dominated by males. Marvel wants to change this by recruiting more young girls into the field– early, and often.


2.  L’Oreal Cosmetics: Women in Science Fellowship Program

L'Oréal-UNESCO_For_Women_in_ScienceSince the program’s start in 2004, L’Oreal has awarded 60 post-doctoral women scientists $3 million in grants. L’Oreal has been a leader in the cosmetic industry for the past 100 years. They’ve also been a leader in recruiting and hiring a strong female workforce. 70% of the scientists and innovators at L’Oreal are female. This is a tremendous improvement compared to the rest of the country, where women make up only 24% of the STEM industry. The fellowship program celebrates its 12th year in 2016.

Words of wisdom from a recent L’Oreal fellow: “The world has problems that need solving, and women in science can solve them. If you are missing half the population in science, you are missing half the solutions,” Dr. Katie Brenner, Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

3. Aerie: This Is Who We Are Now Campaign


This next company doesn’t offer a concrete program for girls but its revolutionary advertising campaign is a winning idea. Meet Aerie, a sister site to popular shopping retailer American Eagle. Aerie specializes in women’s sleepwear and underwear, a market traditionally dominated by Victoria’s Secret. Aerie’s new campaign features models who are not retouched or altered by photoshop. Their magazine and internet ads show images of young, attractive females with freckles, less-than-perfect bodies, and happy smiles.

“We’re not altering the girls in any way,” says Dana Seguin, Aerie’s senior director of marketing. “Nothing is covered up—tattoos, stretch marks, scars, freckles—what you see is what you get.” The company has seen a 9% increase in sales over the course of their new branding. As transparency begins to play a larger part of people’s personal and professional lives, Aerie’s commitment to honest portrayals will no doubt launch them as this trend’s leader.

The best part of this campaign: It’s not a traditional campaign! Retouched models will have no place in the company’s future. The positive support that Aerie has received is overwhelming. Since the start of their campaign, they’ve not only inspired their consumers but are persuading other fashion giants to adopt the approach.


4. Coca-Cola’s 5by20


One of the world’s largest companies is helping women all over the globe. In a new initiative, Coca-Cola is promising to help 5 million women get access to fresh water by 2020. Since the program’s start in 2010, the company has empowered more than 865,000 women, many who’ve they spotlighted on their website. The list includes farmers and artisans who have since become entrepreneurs in their community. By teaming up with local schools and governments and international organizations, Coca-Cola provides women with the education, training, and resources needed to become successful entrepreneurs in their community.

The ripple effect: Coca-Cola believes that fresh water is a crucial step in eliminating the poverty gap. Once water becomes a standard right across the globe, women everywhere will have more time to focus on making the world a brighter, better place.


5. ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative


You might know ANN INC. as the umbrella company to Ann Taylor and LOFT stores, a fashion retailer that sells feminine clothing to professional women of all ages. As a new initiative, the company is offering a selective fellowship opportunity for 10th and 11th-grade girls.

Who are they recruiting? Young women who are making a positive difference in their communities today. If selected, the young leader will engage in a leadership training program, and have the opportunity to create a project in their community using projects grants.

Why this is so inspiring: the majority of the marketing is targeted to ANN INC.’s current audience. Female shoppers who visit the stores have most liked seen the program’s advertisement hung on the door and windows. Because this type of recruitment relies on established leaders to nominate younger women in their community, ANN INC. is helping connect girls to mentors on a national and local level.