“Diversity is not tolerated at L’Oréal – but celebrated,” Barbara Lavernos, deputy CEO at L’Oréal said during her panel discussion with Eric Olsen and Jérémie Lecha at UNLEASH World.
Continuing, she states that L’Oréal is proud to have 58% of women in management and leadership positions – a statistic which is particularly impressive given that women typically only hold 35% of senior leadership positions, according to Zippa.
Over the past decade, L’Oréal has been on a long pursuit to create beauty, while also celebrating the infinite diversity of beauty.
Now, it’s established itself as a leader in the sector on a mission to eliminate bias in algorithms while ensuring the L’Oréal workforce is comprised of diverse teams that prioritize inclusive leadership and management. So much so, that the company’s total workforce is 68% women, with 57% in key positions.
Great headway has also been made on the company’s board, as now women hold half the seats at the table – a 29% increase since 2010.
What’s more, L’Oréal committed to increasing the number of direct employees with disabilities from 2010 (4.3%) to 2021 (5.4%) – now, with 1,625 individuals.
But how can other businesses achieve the same level of DEI?
Although L’Oréal is seemingly a shining example of how a business can increase its DEI credentials, Claire Thomas, chief diversity & inclusion officer, Hitachi Vantara highlights that it’s now always that straightforward.
Fostering DEI that encompasses everyone
“DEI is not just a problem for HR to solve – it’s an issue that needs to be on everyone’s radar,” Thomas said during her exclusive session at UNLEASH World.
Alongside Mike Bollinger, Global VP of strategic initiatives at Cornerstone OnDemand, Thomas explained that although many businesses now strive to achieve DEI targets similar to those at L’Oréal, it’s not always doable.
“Often companies set goals and targets without doing the downstream math,” she explains. “For example, it’s easy to set a target of X% per annum, but if the recruiters aren’t getting enough diverse applications, they may struggle to meet their target.
“It’s definitely good to have ambition and to stretch goals, but if they are impossible to hit it may have a negative impact overall.”
To overcome this, employers must be willing to adapt what they’re looking for and to be flexible with their targets.
“There are so many channels out there now that provide access to different talent pools, particularly of those in underserved communities and groups. So rather than having a 15-point bullet list of unicorn experience every candidate must have, I would suggest looking for actually good talent, for example, by looking for skills such as curiosity and eagerness to learn.
“Over time, you can have a lot of conversations that can lead to changes. It takes time, but it can be done.”
Technology is also highlighted as a key tool with the potential to reduce – and even eliminate – bias implemented by humans.
“I’m optimistic that technology can make many different aspects of business that are manual and have a lot of human bias, simpler,” she said, before reiterating that we do have to be conscious of how it’s built, to ensure it doesn’t show up in other ways.
“There is the chance for biases to appear in technology if those creating the tools are not diverse,” she adds. “It’s food for thought for us all.”
However, for businesses to become truly diverse, they need to focus on all aspects of inclusion – not just increasing the representation of women.
“All underrepresented groups need to be recognized,” she says, stating this is one aspect of DEI that Hitachi is incredibly aware of.
“We’re very consistent in our messaging to ensure we’re promoting inclusion for everybody,” Thomas adds. “I find it important to spread the message that inclusion is not just exclusively for women or underrepresented groups.”
She continues to state that there are a lot of harmful phrases used to describe majority groups in the workplace, which need to be identified and stopped as they are not.
“After all, who doesn’t want to come to work and to feel seen by their team and understood by their manager?” She says.
“Everyone should be able to have meaningful conversations and receive support for whatever issues they’re facing.”
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