The Wharton Environmental, Social and Governance initiative held an event as part of its speaker series, where Beautycounter founder Gregg Renfrew and Wharton graduate Bobby Turner advised students about the social impact industry.
The ESG speakers series was endowed by Turner and his wife, Wharton graduate Lauren Golub Turner, with the purpose of educating the Penn community on impact investing, philanthropy, and education.
The series has featured several panel discussions with high-profile speakers such as Eva Longoria, Ashton Kutcher, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, and Earvin “Magic” Johnson. The initiative had been on a hiatus since the pandemic and returned for this school year.
Renfrew and Turner's talk centered around the idea of making a profit while also ensuring positive social change. Turner is the CEO of Turner Impact Capital, an investment company founded in 2014, with strategies focused on educational facilities, multifamily housing, and healthcare facilities.
Renfrew started Beautycounter, a clean cosmetic line, in 2013 to provide an option to consumers where beauty products would undergo a higher standard of safety, avoiding the use of harmful chemicals.
According to Turner, his experience at Penn has shaped his outlook on business.
“I was able to awaken my thirst for knowledge that wasn’t just based on my own perspectives,” he said.
During the lecture, Turner emphasized that “one can do good, and one can do well," adding that profits do not need to be sacrificed to be socially conscious. Turner said that impact investing addresses the existing demands for quality schools, housing, and healthcare, resources for which the demand will never go down – making this type of business a force for good.
"What you’ll find time and time again, is that happiness is not driven by fame, " Turner said, "but rather from the opportunity to make a positive and lasting impact on other people’s lives”
Beautycounter is a line focusing on makeup, skincare, and personal care. Renfrew added that her motivation for starting this company was experiencing people in her life being diagnosed with cancer and fertility issues, which can be a result of exposure to toxic chemicals in personal products.
“I started the business to build not only a brand, but a movement for change to hopefully make the world safer and healthier for people," adding that cosmetic reform is needed on a federal level since many laws still allow for carcinogens like formaldehyde to be put in baby shampoo.
Throughout the lecture, Renfrew said that she aimed to communicate that business and making the world a better place should not be mutually exclusive. As a woman entrepreneur, she said that she dislikes the notion that women are often given the choice to either be a business person or a great mother and partner.
“The reality of the situation is you can have it all," she said.