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November 05
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Diversity In Action

L'Oreal USA promotes diversity and inclusion

The company hires diverse techies in all areas and has a strong tradition of respecting and valuing the needs of its customers of color


Edward Bullock, L'Oreal's diversity VP, with handsome artwork depicting a customer enjoying L'Oreal's products.

Edward Bullock, L'Oreal's diversity VP, with handsome artwork depicting a customer enjoying L'Oreal's products.

L'Oréal, a global cosmetics producer headquartered in Paris, France, has had a growing presence in the U.S. for more than fifty years. In 2000 the U.S. division was formally reorganized as a subsidiary headquartered in New York. Besides the famous L'Oréal name, it offers Maybelline, Soft Sheen-Carson, Giorgio Armani, Lancôme, Ralph Lauren, Mizani, Paloma Picasso, Guy Laroche and Kiehls brands.

Edward Bullock has been VP for diversity at L'Oréal USA for the past three years of his twenty-one year tenure with the company. He explains that diversity is combined with inclusion and promoted in every facet of corporate life.

The company's commitment to diversity is apparent in the brands it produces and even the stunning multi-racial models it shows in its ads, Bullock declares.

Glamorous diverse models may not seem to have much to do with employee headcounts, but Bullock disagrees. "I call inclusion the twin sister of diversity," he says. "You can't have an effective diversity program unless it includes all employees.

"Most diversity officers may be focused only on HR or supplier diversity, but our approach also examines advertising strategy and the relevance of our ads."

The simple part of that task is ensuring that the ads L'Oréal places in magazines read by minorities are sensitive and relevant to their readers. But Bullock goes far beyond that. He reviews major business areas for diversity trends, and benchmarks L'Oréal USA against five consumer-product peer firms to evaluate progress. Community development and diversity training are also under his umbrella.

Supplier diversity was one of the first areas Bullock addressed. He established a supplier diversity council almost as soon as he stepped into his VP job. Today, 8.2 percent of L'Oréal USA's supplier dollars are spent with companies owned by women and people of color. That figure is up from 7 percent a year ago, Bullock reports with pride.

Another showcase example of the company's respect for diversity is its commitment to meet the cosmetic needs and desires of diverse consumers. "We've put serious research dollars into the study of the hair and skin of individuals of African descent," Bullock explains.

"We've developed a research center in Chicago devoted to that effort, the first of its kind in the world. Just this past summer we opened the first institute in China to study the hair and skin of people of Asian descent."

The Chicago lab's top officer is Dr Victoria Holloway, an African American dermatologist. Holloway is one of about 3,000 diverse U.S. employees, almost a third of the total. More than 60 percent of U.S. managers are women and more than 17 percent are people of color.

Globally, women make up more than half of the 3,100-strong R&D team.

The employees of L'Oréal USA work at NYC HQ, several New Jersey manufacturing and distribution sites and others in Arkansas, Ohio and Kentucky. Lots of HQ personnel are MBAs, and Bullock notes that half the MBAs recruited last year were of diverse backgrounds. As well as scientists, the plants employ many MEs and ChEs, and all locations have IT pros on staff, Bullock notes.

Globally, L'Oréal and its subsidiaries produce nearly 95 percent of their own products "in our own plants with our own employees," Bullock reveals. "We do that to ensure the quality and safety of the products and also workplace safety. We've received numerous awards for our safety standards."

L'Oréal USA offers domestic partner benefits. It also offers fast-track leadership initiatives, like a program that rotates up-and-coming candidates through management experiences at varied jobsites.

There's a robust diversity-training program. "Within the next few years, all our U.S. employees will have gone through mandatory diversity training," Bullock says.

The parent company has an outstanding commitment to a "women in science" program it manages in partnership with UNESCO, which offers awards, scholarships, fellowships and research grants.

L'Oréal USA also promotes diversity for the future. For example, in the New York area the Coalition of 100 Black Women brings young women to visit company worksites for training, mentoring and job counseling. "We are very proud of that program, and of similar programs our various facilities undertake," Bullock says.



Headquarters: New York, NY
Employees: 9,000
Revenues: 3.77 billion euros (about $4.1 billion)
Business: Makes and markets haircare, hair coloring, skincare, sun protection, makeup, perfume, toiletries, dermatological products and luxury goods


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