This story is Part 3 of a three-part series on how L’Oréal USA is adjusting its internal business to focus on sustainability, consumer technology and employee equality, in the name of modernization. Read Part I, here, and Part 2 here.
As L’Oréal USA undergoes an internal modernization around technology and sustainability, it also wants to make sure its employees and corporate culture reflect the rapidly changing marketplace and its values around diversity and inclusivity.
The beauty market has seen a tremendous consumer push for diversity over the past few years, with 40 shades of foundation becoming the new norm and where women of color like Lupita Nyong’o or 70-year-old Maye Musk have become notable brand ambassadors. But in order for the brand to design and market products that are reflective of the wide range of ethnic and social customer groups, it must first be reflective of that same diversity. L’Oréal USA specifically maintains a corporate team led by five people who work to establish partnerships with non-government organizations (NGOs) and identify where discrepancies in inclusion lay, and work within the corporation to solicit employee feedback and develop external relationships with non-profit groups to increase its outreach to underrepresented groups. These initiatives all fall under L’Oréal’s larger Beauty for All mission, which is focused on making the brand more accessible through its modernization and ultimately add one billion consumers around the world in the coming years by creating products that meet every type of customer’s beauty needs and desires.
“The marketplace is dynamic, so keeping a pulse on that and being agile in order to reflect that [diversity] in our business practices is one of the most innovative things we do,” said Angela Guy, svp of diversity and inclusion at L’Oréal USA.
As the company grows organically, as well as through acquisitions, the brand needs to constantly work to engage its employees and corporate structure to adapt and reflect the changing cultural landscape. L’Oréal USA has over 11,000 employees and Guy, and her team of four people, are tasked with shaping all the diversity efforts within the company. This is not a typical human resources job, as diversity and inclusion is a business role and Guy reports directly to Frédéric Rozé, president and CEO of L’Oréal USA; Guy works across a variety of divisions within L’Oréal including research, manufacturing, marketing, sales, human relations and administrative teams, which gives her role a larger corporate overview.
Diversity and inclusion also expand to all underrepresented groups, including race and ethnicity, LGBTQ, people with disabilities and women, and L’Oréal engages NGOs to provide the company with insights into proper messaging internally and externally around these topics and how to improve its internal representation. L’Oréal has worked with the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for representation of LGBTQ people, and undergoes a six-month audit by The Global Business Certification Standard for Gender Equality every two years to determine if the company is providing equal pay for equal work between men and women. These outside groups play a significant role in L’Oréal’s strategy to advance inclusivity, Guy said.
“I think the transparency around the way we communicate is unique. ‘Beauty for All’ has to resonate within itself,” she said. “We can have all the [public] acknowledgments, but if the culture doesn’t resonate with their day to day, it’s not as effective as it needs to be.”
Some ways that L’Oréal communicates to its employees about diversity include video series and employee think tanks, as well as personal stories hosted on internal websites and an annual employee survey that solicits feedback. Guy herself also engages in mentoring within L’Oréal, saying that it is important she has a direct connection to the insights of employees. Currently, across L’Oréal Group – USA numbers are not broken out – the total workforce is 69 percent women in 2017, an increase from 64 percent in 2010; L’Oréal Group has publicly said it would like to recruit an equal number of men and women by 2020, especially as upper management positions are where women’s representation grows smaller. Women represent 33 percent of the executive committee in 2017, an increase from 21 percent in 2010, and female board members increased from 21 percent to 46 percent during the same time.
Another reason that working with outside groups and receiving certification on its equality is important is to outwardly demonstrate to stakeholders that L’Oréal takes these initiatives seriously, Guy said, as well as to keep the brand close to the communities it works with through its supply chain. For example, L’Oréal works with the outside group Employment Horizons, which is a non-profit that provides job placement and training to people with disabilities and other special needs in the greater Morris County, New Jersey area. L’Oréal’s brands have been working with Employment Horizons for distribution of products, and Guy said the relationship has been growing closer; within L’Oréal Group, there were 1,238 employees with some kind of disability as of March, according to the brand.
“We want to make sure we are staying connected to the communities we serve and do our part to drive the economic communities, especially the underrepresented, by mirroring our workplace on that, and we believe that gives us some creative and competitive advantage.”