VS&Co Executive Leadership Series – Greg Unis
VS&Co Executive Leadership Series
The Victoria’s Secret & Co. Executive Leadership Series is a behind-the-scenes conversation with our leaders on the topics they are most passionate about. Stay tuned as we continue our commitment to welcome, celebrate and honor our customers, our associates, and the communities where we engage. We are excited to have you on this journey with us.
Greg Unis, CEO of Victoria’s Secret Beauty, on Businesses as Allies and the Importance of Living Authentically
At Victoria’s Secret & Co., we pledge to welcome and celebrate every associate, partner, and customer from all backgrounds, abilities, and life stages, including the LGBTQIA+ community. This Pride month, we sat down with Greg Unis, CEO of Victoria’s Secret Beauty, to learn more about how his experiences have led him to lead our Evolve Inclusion Resource Group for LGBTQIA+ associates and allies and become a role model to help individuals live authentically.
Hear directly from Greg as he discusses how his passions and responsibilities merge to help people feel their most confident.
“As an organization with a global platform, we have a responsibility to help advocate and educate so that individuals can be their authentic selves.”
1. Tell us about yourself and your role at VS&Co.
I have been the CEO of Victoria’s Secret Beauty since April 2016 and oversee both Victoria’s Secret and PINK beauty offerings. From our best-selling fragrances to innovative body care and accessories, I’m responsible for making sure customers at all stages of life feel their most confident.
2. What made you passionate about leading our Beauty business at VS&Co?
I first joined Victoria’s Secret six years ago because I love brands that customers have a strong emotional connection to. When you think “Victoria’s Secret” there’s always a feeling connected to that name and it’s that feeling and those emotions that drove me to lead our Beauty category, because beauty is emotional.
Scents can evoke memories, even when we don’t realize it, and take you back in time to a certain day or place. Smell is one of the most powerful senses, because it can influence the way we feel about ourselves. I’m passionate about leading our Beauty business because I’m passionate about helping our customers feel great about themselves and find their inner strength.
3. There’s been a lot of exciting Beauty news just this year – our new Amazon storefront, the first bilingual Bombshell campaign with Camila Cabello and more. How does it make you feel?
We’ve had an exciting start to the year and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far. We’re on a journey to make our products and the experiences we offer more accessible to everyone – you can now purchase Beauty products outside of our standard website and stores, and you may be able to relate to a Victoria’s Secret campaign in a way you have not been able to before.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that the work is never done and there’s always more we can accomplish together. As a global company on a mission to empower customers around the world, it is our job to continually look for opportunities to optimize our offerings and deepen our connection with our customers.
4. You are the executive sponsor of our Evolve Inclusion Resource Group for LGBTQIA+ associates and allies. What made you want to take on this position?
My answer to this is two-fold. The first is I want to be a role model and support individuals in understanding their limitless potential. I am a firm believer that if you put your mind to it, you can do anything. I’m fortunate to have gotten to a place in my life where I can say that and mean it because I wish I had that role model growing up. Earlier this month, I had the honor to kick off Pride with our partner, The Point Foundation, as part of our Evolve internal programming, and someone asked me who my role model was growing up. I didn’t have an answer because growing up, I was afraid of what people would think of me, so I was never able to be my authentic self. I think a lot of LGBTQIA+ individuals still struggle with this fear, and I want to let them know it’s going to be okay.
The second is, I believe I have a responsibility given the history of our brand. In the past, we’ve failed to represent and champion the LGBTQIA+ community, and remarks made about transgender models were damaging to associates and customers around the world. As we continue our journey to evolve our brand, we are committed to learning and growing from our mistakes. While I can’t change what happened in the past, I can change what we do today and help make VS&Co a safe and welcoming place for all.
5. Evolve has taken an important role in leading the organization's response to recent anti-LGBTQIA+ efforts across the country. Can you speak to that and why it's important for organizations like VS&Co to weigh in on such matters?
In the last few weeks, I personally witnessed how an individual's life experience can vary dramatically based on how safe and empowered they feel to live authentically. One day, I watched a friend and colleague's son courageously come out to his classmates at his middle school graduation. The next day, I attended the memorial service of a friend that tragically took his life after years of being in a closeted relationship. This is why we recognize Pride – to prevent future heartbreak and fight for all people to own their identities and live honestly.
As an organization with a global platform, we have a responsibility to help advocate and educate so that individuals can be their authentic selves. As we continue to learn and grow from our past, we are committed to championing every voice and fostering a culture of respect and inclusivity.
6. How is VS&Co supporting our LGBTQIA+ associates and community throughout June and beyond?
As a company, we’re committed to standing with the LGBTQIA+ community. In response to recent anti-LGBTQIA+ efforts, we’ve joined businesses across the U.S. in calling for public leaders to oppose harmful legislation and we’ve expanded our partnership with The Point Foundation, which supports LGBTQIA+ college students pursuing law.
VS&Co also offers a variety of resources for associates including free counseling, inclusive benefit offerings, and education tools, such as our DE&I learning platform and pronoun resources.
Throughout June, Evolve is hosting various events including speaker series, panel discussions, and conversation circles focused on legislation, advocacy, education, and more.
7. How can the business community be more inclusive of and allies to the LGBTQIA+ community?
I think what the business community can really do is ensure they’ve created a network and safe space for all people, whether that be associates, customers, or partners. For people who feel like they don’t belong or live outside the “norm,” this is huge. That’s why representation in marketing and our Inclusion Resource Groups are so important, because it creates a sense of belonging in an otherwise overwhelming world. I believe that in order to feel your best and be your most confident, you need to feel that sense of belonging and that’s the responsibility businesses have.
8. What is one of the most memorable projects you’ve worked on at VS&Co?
When I first joined the company, I spent a lot of time with our customers in our stores and learning from our incredible stores team. During this time, I was able to connect one-on-one with our customers and store associates to understand what’s resonating and the potential for our brand. This potential really energized me then and continues to energize me today because, like I said, our work is never done and there’s always more we can do. We’ve taken the Victoria’s Secret experience out of just the stores and to a whole new level of customer interaction, like with our Bombshell Pop-Up in New York City earlier this year. Seeing these new and innovative ways we can connect and relate to our customers is what inspires me.
9. What is your favorite part about working at VS&Co?
What I truly love is how the entire VS&Co team comes together to help make our customer feel their most confident. It’s a true collaborative effort from functions across the business working in tandem to make it all possible. And I value our focus on DE&I. Listening to and incorporating feedback from a range of perspectives is what makes us stronger at the end of the day. Without the power of our incredible VS&Co team, all we’d have are ideas – it’s the people that bring these ideas to life.
10. Any advice or life lessons you’d like to share?
Do what you love. *
*Make sure it really is what you love.