Managing corporate responsibility for a global company with 160,000 employees can’t be easy, especially in 2021. But Karin Raguin, vp of talent management and corporate responsibility at LVMH North America, is rising to the challenge.
“All of the past year has been about people and safety, and well-being … and values … and how we enable people to shape their professional paths in a very meaningful way,” said Raguin, on the Glossy Podcast. “My job has not changed over the past year, but it has been accelerated.”
Raguin, who worked as a social worker before joining LVMH in 2007, said that 2020 marked a tipping point for LVMH, in terms of transparency. That was largely driven by the widespread social unrest following the killing of George Floyd. “There was an expectation [among] our employees and our customers for [us to provide] more direct communication about what we were doing. So, we were louder [about] our diversity and inclusion actions.”
Other accelerations included ramping up efforts to ensure employees’ mental health.
Here are a few highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
“LVMH traditionally has not been very loud on culture and diversity and inclusion, not that we were not having action. But the past year has really been a tipping point, with the push for transparency. I think there was an expectation for our employees and for our customers for more direct communication about what we were doing. So, yes, we were louder [about] our diversity and inclusion actions. And especially after the murder of George Floyd, it has been a moment for everyone to pause and listen. And as an organization, we immediately organized focus groups and listening sessions. And the idea was really to understand more, to accelerate our efforts, and probably to communicate more internally and externally, and really support the Black community.”
On attracting diverse talent
“There’s talent everywhere, but recruiting is really a challenging action in that it’s incredibly difficult to reach the right candidate. And when I say the right candidate, it’s that — there is a lot of misconception [among talent] about luxury, fashion and beauty. And what we want to convey is, first of all, the diversity of the job. I mean, basically at LVMH, there is something somewhere for everyone. We don’t have one leadership style; we have multiple leadership styles. Even our brains are very different from a corporate perspective. And one tip that I would like to give, and especially to the early career professional, is to really go beyond the brand, go beyond the job title, meet people, go on social media, really understand the culture and find a corporate culture which really resonates with your own values. Because a career is not only your job, it’s really what brings you fulfillment in your day-to-day.”
Building toward gender equality
“LVMH was probably one of the first organizations to set a target for women in leadership positions. And when that started, more than 10 years ago, we had only 23%. And now we are over 44%, so we doubled in 10 years. And what I’ve learned from this journey is, first of all, the journey is not over. Second, it doesn’t happen organically. And third, intersectionality is important, because sexism, like racism, really [forces] structural change within the organization. And so everything is linked. But we are very proud of our progress. And I think that to be in an environment where women can grow their career is very much a source of pride for all women, but also for men. And actually, we are launching an allyship program, to really enable women to have male allies. We have a specific focus for women’s support to women of color. And we are also focusing on having women [who are] starting their career be mentored by more junior women. So yes, we are still on this journey.”
Prioritizing employees’ mental health
“[Mental health] is a starting point of everything; mental safety, emotional safety in the corporation — that is a starting point to being engaged in your day-to-day job and to really being able to bring your full self to work. So, yes, part of my job has been to provide additional support to our employees and to our brands. And over the pandemic, we have provided extra support for mental health. We have just done a pilot with Mental Health First Aid, which is amazing training that I strongly recommend to anyone who wants to support peers, colleagues and everyone who needs mental health help. And we had some sessions for HR, as well, because HR has been on the frontline for mental health. And that’s something that, sadly, is here to stay. And we are anticipating next year having this topic as a priority, because what we learned from the trainer and the therapist during our mental health HR session is that 30% of the population is going to experience post-stress disorder. So we really need the extra support on this, and corporations have a role to play in providing this safe resource. We are not here to fix people, but we are here to provide them support so they can get the help they need.”