In March 2022, at the outbreak of the invasion of Ukraine it had announced that it would be suspending all investments in Russia and would “stop exporting products from the Russian factory to all other markets”.
Its parent company Natura & Co had previously insisted it would only maintain Russian links in the interests of women and children there who would experience “an outsize impact” if their access to products was restricted.
Yet the investigation found Avon’s business dealings extended beyond just supporting existing salespeople, with the company clearly recruiting new agents in Russia.
Registration as a new sales agent for the firm is still live and prizes, cash bonuses and holidays are offered for hitting targets.
Avon Russia’s YouTube channel also appears to show senior managers promoting the value of sales training at Avon and award ceremonies for agents.
Avon, which was founded 137 years ago, has been doing business in Russia for the last thirty years. According to its Russian website, it is the number one perfume brand in the country.
The company prides itself on providing “critical support” for women operating as independent entrepreneurs around family commitments.
“It is only maintaining local product operations in support of Representatives who operate as independent entrepreneurs,” Natura & Co had said in a statement on their website.
“We believe the world must unite and stand together for peace while acting with solidarity with all people impacted by this unacceptable aggression against human rights in Ukraine.”
Mark Dixon, founder of the Moral Rating Agency, which spotlights corporate links with Russia in the aftermath of the war in Ukraine, accused Avon of “moral-washing”.
He told the BBC: “How can [Avon] in good faith sell products for women and children from a company that supports the economy behind Putin’s invasion of Ukraine?”
More than 2.5 billion units have been manufactured in the Naro-Fominsk plant which opened in Moscow in 2004 and appears to now only serve the Russian market.
Avon produces more than 220 types of cosmetics and perfumes from the location - although Avon told the BBC the plant exclusively serves the Russian market. Natura & Co insists the firm has no “financial advantage” from being in Russia.
An Avon spokesperson said: “Avon Russia supports women in Russia through locally funded activities to support their social selling businesses.
“We see this as critical support for women whose livelihoods depend on their Avon business.”