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Diversity Isn’t An Option -- It’s A Business Imperative

07/09/2018 03:01 pm ET Updated Oct 25, 2018

By Frédéric Roze, president and CEO, L’Oréal USA

Every day we are confronted with news stories that confirm the need to unite around inclusion. The feelings that these stories generate are not left at home when we all come to work. That’s why it is essential that we share our commitment to diversity and inclusion with our employees and stakeholders and continually reinforce diversity as a business imperative.

I became one of more than 450 signatories of the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion because these values are part of our DNA at L’Oréal.  For more than 100 years, we have recognized and celebrated diversity in beauty.  Our products are sold in 150 countries around the world and are formulated to meet the needs of all consumers.

Research, conducted by the Korn Ferry Institute in 2016, found that diverse teams, when well managed, outperform homogenous teams. Here in the U.S., almost 39 percent of our employees identify as people of color in a marketplace where that representation is 35 percent.  We know the diversity of our teams contributes to our success on a daily basis, and that is why it’s a business driver at L’Oréal.

When we first joined the CEO Action, we were asked to submit at least one key action related to our work in diversity and inclusion.  Our action focused on equity ― a priority at L’Oréal. We strive to have 50/50 gender representation at all levels and pay equity. We have made considerable progress in these areas:

  • Our executive committee, comprised of 58 heads of major brands such as L’Oréal Paris, Lancôme, Maybelline, Kiehl’s and many more, is now at gender parity.  Five years ago, women represented 31 percent of the executive committee. Today that number exceeds 50 percent. Additionally, the number of women at the VP level and above has increased 56 percent over the past five years, solidifying a pipeline to strategic-level positions.

  • We have a strong commitment to pay equity.  As an original signatory to the White House Pledge on Pay Equity, L’Oréal USA has been a member of the Employers for Pay Equity Steering Committee, working with companies to support their efforts toward pay equity.  Additionally, this year we are conducting two wage gap analyses: an internal regression tool and an external tool to validate our model and identify any areas of opportunity.

  • We co-developed and implemented an inclusive leadership program with The Harvard Kennedy School for senior leaders. The program focuses on gender equity and unconscious bias.  Approximately 70 leaders have gone through the program to date, and we have begun to embed these learnings into the way we work.

  • L’Oréal remains focused and transparent in our mission to achieve gender equality.  We are currently in the process of our third certification in gender equity through EDGE (Economic Dividends for Gender Equality) Strategy.  L’Oréal USA was the first company in the U.S. to be certified by EDGE, a leading global company in gender certification across industries. The EDGE certification involves a comprehensive review of the company’s gender policies and practices along with a deep analysis of gender data across the entire U.S. workforce of more than 12,000 employees.   As part of the evaluation, L’Oréal surveyed employees on gender equality as it pertains to recruitment and promotion, leadership training and mentorship, flexible work, company culture and equal pay for equivalent work. This year’s certification will confirm the sustainability of our efforts.

  • L’Oréal was recognized as one of the Top 100 Companies in the 2018 Bloomberg Gender Equality Index, achieving the maximum score in the community and product categories.  We were evaluated on female management statistics, policies supporting a gender-inclusive workplace, public support for women in the community, and more.  As with EDGE, Bloomberg validates our leadership status and holds us accountable for delivering on categories important to gender equality.

  • L’Oréal USA also is leveraging the tools and insights shared by the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion. We’ve increased our leadership representation and enhanced our engagement with academic institutions. For example, our senior leaders participated in the Forum for Workplace Inclusion and various other conferences at academic institutions such as Penn State, Wharton, Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) and Adelphi to discuss topics related to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Additionally, we’ve added the PwC videos on bias to our employee learning tools, and we continue to share them throughout every level of our organization.

By sharing best practices through the CEO for Action for Diversity & Inclusion, we can all make a difference in the workplace and beyond.  At L’Oréal, we have a corporate ambition of Beauty For All, which is our commitment to a sustainable workforce, workplace and marketplace. We value diversity and inclusion as a business imperative and in our efforts to meet the diverse beauty needs and aspirations of consumers around the world.

CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion was spearheaded by PwC U.S. Chairman Tim Ryan.

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