Harry’s may be, first and foremost, a consumer packaged goods company focused on razors, personal care and pet care products. But that’s not going to dissuade them from trying to transform the state of mental healthcare in the U.S.
To this end, Harry’s launched its Open Minds initiative last April — a $5 million program in partnership with Futures Without Violence, National Council for Mental Wellbeing and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America designed to reach more than a million people in its first three years.
A commitment to giving back is something that many companies embrace — but rarely to the extent that Harry’s does. And the company’s approach is multi-faceted.
Across their portfolio, each brand sets aside 1 percent of its sales to fund their social missions. The Harry’s brand supports nonprofits providing mental health care services to men, with a particular focus on young men and boys, Black men, Veterans and LGBTQ folks. These nonprofit partners include A Call to Men, BEAM Collective and Stop Soldier Suicide. With help from the brand’s partners, Harry’s is currently on track to reach 1.5 million men — and donate over $12 million — by 2024.
Flamingo, the body-care and hair removal brand, has a 1 percent commitment to support nonprofit organizations like Exhale to Inhale and Black Girls Smile Inc. — organizations working to ensure that women build healthy, positive relationships with themselves. And the company’s latest brand Cat Person expects to announce its own impact-focused program that services causes connected to the brand’s ethos and its commitment to the communities in which it operates within the next year.
As impressive as those commitments are, they are just some of the ways that Harry’s and its employees are working together to effect positive change. From employee volunteerism to active ERGs, Harry’s presents its employees with a myriad of opportunities to do good. These programs are informed by a set of values that the company refreshed last year — a set of values that includes, as one of its four tenets, a promise to “see the person, serve the people.”
“Our social impact programs very much live within our philosophy as a company,” Social Impact Manager Laura Blackburn said. “We want to build a business that not only does well — but does good out in the world.”
“‘See the person, serve the people’ means making sure we see, respect and try to connect with every person as a person,” Suji Strain-Kokich, manager, email marketing, said. “We want to take action that will have a positive impact on people. This is the value that really drives our culture of giving back at Harry’s.”
Harry’s Core Values
- Grow forth
- Own it
- Embrace the mammoth
- See the person, serve the people
At Harry’s, values like “see the person, serve the people” aren’t confined to the walls of a particular conference room. They inform every aspect of the company’s operations — from a candidate’s interview to the evaluative process, from internship to the senior-most leadership.
“We’re evaluated on both how we’re impacting the Harry’s community and the community in which we serve at large,” Joseph Gibson, senior associate, global sourcing, said. “We have our values implemented into what we call our ‘WSKRS’, or Working Strategy for Key Results metrics on how we as employees get evaluated. So as an employee, I get evaluated based on how I accomplish some of my whiskers, and it’s fun to know that some of the volunteer work and the social impact work that I do and am a part of gets taken into account.”
For Gibson, in particular, that means acknowledging his outsized contributions to Harry’s as a co-leader of the company’s African Ancestry Collective — or AAC — as well as an active participant in the company’s Pride ERG — two of the company’s seven ERGs.
It also means acknowledging Gibson’s work as an active participant in the company’s High Five employee volunteer program, one of the principal ways that Harry’s employees express its “see the person, serve the people” value.
In addition to his work with Harry’s, Gibson serves as a junior board member of Bottom Line, an organization that helps degree-aspiring students from under-resourced communities as they negotiate college and begin their careers. The organization recently held a resumé writing event in partnership with the AAC and High Five program.
“We had a really great response,” Gibson said, “and one Harry's employee loved it so much that they actually now sit on the junior board with me.”
The program, which gives Harry’s employees up to five days of paid time off to engage in community service, emerged not so much to encourage employees to volunteer as it did to accommodate a preexisting interest in volunteering and service.
When looking into ways to cultivate community engagement within the company, Blackburn said, Harry’s leadership found that many team members were already actively involved. Creating High Five was a matter of providing greater recognition for those team members, celebrating their social impact successes and encouraging even greater participation in the company’s efforts to give back.
“We really wanted to carve out paid time off to help amplify the work that our team was already doing and to celebrate and appreciate people for being out in the community,” Blackburn said. “Carving out this formalized program was a way to not only recognize what our team was doing but also to bring other folks into the fold.”
In addition to advancing Harry’s commitment to social impact, programs like High Five have provided Harry’s team members with opportunities for personal and professional growth. They have also provided team members with opportunities to connect with people inside and outside Harry’s that they typically would not interact with.
That's how Gibson first met Strain-Kokich — brainstorming ways in which the AAC and High Five could collaborate and create volunteer opportunities for team members.
“We were talking about how High Five and AAC could collaborate on events, and then months later, we found out that we were working on a project together,” Gibson said. “We already had a relationship and a rapport with each other. It becomes less daunting to ask questions when you already have worked with your colleagues in this different space.”
Already an active volunteer within the community, Strain-Kokich was first attracted to working at Harry’s because of the company’s social mission. “Within the first six months of joining Harry’s, I started participating heavily in volunteering. I quickly applied to join the High Five program, and it's been great to get new folks excited about giving back in ways that are meaningful to our teammates.” Strain-Kokich said.
Strain-Kokich has been a High Five Ambassador for the past two years — helping steward the program through the difficulties of the pandemic and develop opportunities for Harry’s team members to become involved.
Going Above and Beyond with High Five
“Typically, High Five Ambassadorship is supposed to be an annual program,” Social Impact Manager Laura Blackburn said. “The pandemic completely threw a wrench into the works, and our current slate of High Five ambassadors, Suji included, has stayed on well past their tenure. Their willingness to continue on and to excel speaks to the above-and-beyond way that folks approach their work here.
Getting with the Program
In many respects, the culmination of those two years of service may be the company’s recent See the Person, Serve the People Week — a week-long event encouraging all members of the Harry’s team to become engaged in community service and social impact opportunities — either virtually or in person.
“When we launched our new core values, we were actually already planning to host a week-long volunteer event in November,” Blackburn said. “We saw a huge opportunity to rebrand the week, connect to our newly released core values and give folks a real tangible way to be able to live that core value and bring meaning to it.”
Because the company had already established strong relationships with a number of national and local New York City nonprofits, Blackburn said, the event proved to be a smooth production.
“It was pretty easy to activate around a core group of causes that our team really cares about — whether that was hunger or the environment or LGBTQ advocacy,” Blackburn said. “We had this amazing group of cross-functional folks, including Suji and our High Five ambassadors and our workplace experience, DEI and UK teams. Ambassadors each led an event, evangelized across their teams and built a ton of internal support.”
Ultimately, Blackburn noted, the success of the event was a tribute to Harry’s’ people — people like Gibson and Strain-Kokich who work tirelessly to promote the company's magnanimous mission — and to its values.
“It was a joy to work with everyone, bring our values to life and deepen our partnerships in the community,” Blackburn said.