Over the last 25 years, The Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Campaign (The Campaign) has been a leading voice for breast cancer awareness, igniting a global movement that has helped fund innovative research and inspired meaningful action against the disease.
Evelyn H. Lauder founded The Campaign and co-created the pink ribbon in 1992, sparking this global movement to end breast cancer. Mrs. Lauder founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) the following year in 1993 and The Campaign has remained a critical partner since. The Campaign has raised $70 million dollars globally, of which $56 million dollars has funded 225 medical research grants through the BCRF. Employees of The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) have played an integral role in The Campaign’s success in raising awareness and propelling research forward, faster.
We talked to several of the incredibly dedicated staff at The Estée Lauder Companies to learn what drives them, year after year, to support research.
Diane Ackley has served at ELC for 41 years, first as the Senior Vice President for Marketing at Clinique International for 26 years and has since served as a consultant solely dedicated to The Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Campaign. After first hearing Evelyn H. Lauder talk about The Campaign in 1993 while at a Clinique conference, she became inspired to join. Her connection to the cause was immediate and personal, having lost her mother and sister to cancer.
How do you raise money for The Campaign?
I’ve been an advocate for The Campaign since its inception and have officially been working on ELC’s breast cancer awareness efforts for the last 16 years. I’m most proud of the employee volunteers who have initiated so many incredible fundraising programs around the world. Our volunteers raise money for breast cancer research all on their own time, all with the goal of creating a world without breast cancer, and all inspired by the life and legacy of Evelyn H. Lauder. It’s part of the ELC culture and we see it in every employee. While so many of our activities take place in October, volunteer task forces plan programs throughout the year. We know that breast cancer research needs support every day. It’s really heartening to see our employees wear the pink ribbon, co-created by Evelyn, with such great pride knowing that they can make a difference by raising money for life-saving research.
What inspires you to raise money for breast cancer research?
I was first asked to join The Campaign by Evelyn and I didn’t hesitate. My connection to the cause is very personal. It has given me the greatest joy and pride knowing I can make even a little difference. Evelyn truly inspired me when I started and I continue to be inspired by her legacy. At the end of the day, we are working to take care of people and make sure everyone is ok—that is the organization’s way and that was Evelyn’s way.
Over the last 25 years, I’ve personally seen the evolution of how breast cancer is perceived and talked about—Evelyn and The Campaign have been a huge part of eliminating the stigma. We’re not afraid to talk about breast cancer the way we once were. And, turning that awareness into action has been another part of that evolution. We’ve seen the difference research can make—mortality rates have decreased by 38% since the late 1980’s and five-year survival rates are better than 90% when breast cancer is found early. But we can do even better. We can create a breast cancer-free world and that’s what The Campaign is going to do.
Any words of inspiration for others who are hoping to make a difference like you have?
My inspiration came from both personal losses and Evelyn’s vision. And I know that her legacy will and should continue to inspire the next generation of ELC employees. Getting involved can be simple, spontaneous and happen anywhere in the world. All that’s needed is an inspired leader—and ELC is filled with thousands of dedicated, passionate and committed employees around the world.