Today Cora released its first social impact report—quantifying our efforts over the last five years to contribute meaningfully toward a more diverse and inclusive workplace and a more equitable society. One exciting example of this is the announcement that Cora has partnered with United Way to increase domestic giving and our effort to fight period poverty here in the U.S. To understand the new partnership and the issues it’s addressing, I spoke with Molly Hayward, Cora’s Founder and Chief Brand Officer.
Cora’s been successfully giving back in Kenya and India for 5 years now. What caused the push for a more dedicated domestic giving program?
It’s become more and more evident over the last few years that the need [for period products] in the U.S. is significant. A lack of products is not just felt by people who are temporarily displaced because of a natural disaster, which is where we’ve historically focused our domestic giving. It’s a basic need that’s still not being met for millions of women and girls in the U.S. on a monthly basis. Women are sometimes forced to choose between buying groceries or keeping the electricity on in their houses or buying these products for themselves and their daughters. It’s really rooted in the pervasive poverty within this country.
So, it became very evident to us that with that ongoing need, there was an opportunity for Cora to consistently provide products to women and girls right here at home. The experience is one all women deserve to have with dignity. While we continue our work in Africa and India, with our growth as a company, we also felt we finally had the ability to expand our giving and address the need in our own communities.
What was the vetting process like for this partnership? How did Cora decide United Way was the best fit for its domestic giving efforts?
The process consisted of looking at organizations that had a long history of civic engagement and social justice work and a social justice mission, and one that had broad reach across the nation with a significant amount of legitimacy and trust. The United Way really covers all three of those areas. For over 130 years, the organization has been providing essential services to communities in need through its local chapters, which is a really effective way of making sure the needs of the community are met.
Can you tell me more about Cora’s partnership with United Way?
It feels like a natural fit because of the way we are able to partner with them to provide products through their already existing local chapters, food banks, and places where people are already going for access to basic needs. The way it works is that Cora will donate a significant percentage of our profits from retail sales toward providing period products to these local chapters—and we’ve committed to ensuring that at least 75% of these donations go to BIPOC communities.
Right, Cora made the 75% donations to BIPOC communities pledge back in June. How will this work and be measured?
The goal of reaching more people in minority communities is one that we share with the United Way. We’re working with them to specifically identify donation centers and local chapters within BIPOC communities where there is a need and prioritizing getting products into those communities first.
Prior to this new partnership, Cora reached 50,000 girls and women in the US. Can you share who these girls/communities were?
Prior to this year, our domestic giving was really focused on being able to help in acute situations where there was an urgent need in the U.S; natural disasters like the wildfires in California and Hurricane Harvey in Texas. We’ve also made many small donations to local organizations that would proactively reach out to us that we felt we were able to support with our own products.
Have you noticed any differences between Cora’s giving—and the partners we work with—internationally versus here in the U.S.?
Every organization that we work with to give product shares the same vision for being able to help provide products and health education resources to the most underserved populations. From there, we work hard to ensure that there’s strong accountability, that the products are going into the right communities, that we can measure long term impact, and that we’re constantly aware of improving the product experience and making it more culturally appropriate and environmentally sustainable.
Reproductive health education is a critical piece of the giving Cora does through our partner organizations in Kenya and India. How will this partnership address education, domestically?
Because we are distributing products in the U.S. through United Way distribution centers, we don’t have as much opportunity to offer education as we do when we’re distributing to girls in India and Kenya through schools, but we nonetheless feel that there’s an opportunity to offer guidance and resources to women and girls receiving products here. To that end, we have created an educational piece based on Blood & Milk’s Guide to a Better Period, which we will include with all product donations. This pamphlet includes nutritional tips, movement and exercise, and self care practices that provide support throughout the four phases of the menstrual cycle.
Sustainability is another pillar of what Cora stands for. What do sustainability efforts and practices look like within the United Way partnership?
The products we will donate in the U.S. are Cora’s own products, and so they are made with better ingredients and are designed to be more sustainable than conventional brands. Additionally, these products are made in the U.S., which significantly decreases the environmental footprint of freight and shipping when getting them from our manufacturing facilities into the donation and distribution centers across the country.
We’re grateful to be at a point in the growth of our company where we’re able to support the need in this country. We know a lot of people are struggling right now and we want to continue to be a resource and be in service to people with periods.
Read the full impact report here.