Jean-Claude Le Grand presents L‘Oréal‘s advancements & future challenges

CONVERSATION WITH...

Jean-Claude Le Grand

Senior VP Talent Development and Chief Diversity Officer at L’Oréal

Gender, disability and social and ethnic origins have been the three main focuses of L’Oréal’s Senior Vice President Talent Development and Chief Diversity Officer Jean-Claude Le Grand since 2006. It was during his time as the Group’s Recruitment Director that he realized the need for the implementation of a diversity policy and he has been the driving force behind its development ever since. His wealth of experience in this domain has given him a unique perspective on what diversity really means. He is well aware of the issues an international company needs to address and the need to mobilize more than 84000 employees in this worldwide adventure. Over the last ten years, much has been accomplished but much remains to be done, and Jean-Claude Le Grand is ready to face that challenge.

 

 

L’Oréal started tackling the diversity issue in the early 2000s. The company’s ambition was to implement diversity in gender, in origins, both social and ethnic and in disability at every level, and in some functions of the organization be it in human resources, marketing or purchasing. What have you achieved in the last ten years?

Jean-Claude Le Grand: We have made clear and irrefutable progress with regards to the position of women within the Group. Gender equality, equal pay and a parenthood policy have all been achieved at a global level. We set the goal to reach gender parity and we’re almost there.

Almost ?

Jean-Claude Le Grand: Well, we have reached a pretty good balance but we have to maintain it and go further in some areas where there are still too few women. This is the case in information technology, for instance, and among our Executive Vice-Presidents and Heads of Zone. Only 28% of our Executive Vice-Presidents and Heads of Zone are women. This is not enough and we need to increase the number of women in these roles. On the other hand, in some fields the situation is quite different with a clear majority of women. In marketing, for example, currently only 21% of our employees are men. Global recruitment of men has dropped from 27% in 2010 to 21% in 2015. The big challenge we face is reversing this trend and recruiting more men to ensure a balanced workforce.

What about disability? Are you satisfied with L’Oréal’s progress in this area as well?

Jean-Claude Le Grand: Yes we are. In France we started working on the inclusion of people with disabilities over twenty years ago and we are proud to have reached the legal requirement of 6% for the first time in 2013 and again in 2014. The international roll-out started with a policy to include employees with disabilities in three or four European countries. It took time, but the initiative has now gone global and has been implemented in 65 countries since 2014. It covers not only accessibility but sourcing, recruitment and training as well. We’re among the most committed and most advanced international organizations as far as disability is concerned. Just last October, L’Oréal was among the first companies to sign the Global Business and Disability Network Charter with the International Labour Organization, (ILO).

Is there scope for even greater progress? What is the next step?

Jean-Claude Le Grand: Two pillars of our diversity policy are solid. The position of women and the inclusion of people with disabilities have really transformed L’Oréal, not only as a company but as a community. However, as far as social origins are concerned, I haven’t seen any significant evolution. When it comes to ethnic origins, we have seen some progress locally but not worldwide. Figures show that it remains sporadic rather than global. Even in countries with extremely diverse cultural societies such as Brazil, Chile or Argentina, employees do not reflect the local social reality. You rarely see indigenous peoples represented in South America, for example. This issue is probably the most difficult challenge that L’Oréal faces as a corporation. As it is, I believe, for any corporation. We must find a way to change by 2020. Otherwise L’Oréal will be an inclusive company for women, a disability friendly company, a company for men… but a company that does not represent the multi-cultural reality in the countries we are operating in.

Are L’Oréal’s achievements measurable? How do you proceed?

Jean-Claude Le Grand:

Every five years, L’Oréal voluntarily publishes a comprehensive report that shows our progress on the key indicators of our policy. These are on gender, disability, social and ethnic origins as well as diversity training. As we like to say, what gets measured gets done! But our track record isn’t meant to be a lesson for anybody.

 

We like to measure our progress, it is a way to ensure our actions are working and that corrective measures are implemented. Our objective with this first digital Diversity Report is not to lecture anyone, but to share examples of what can be achieved. We want it to be a space for discussion, for ideas. On this website, our partners and employees will be able to share their feedback with us and may even draw inspiration from it. This is also how we will continue to improve.