On September 16th, L'Oréal was awarded a GEEIS SGD Trophy at the UN’s New York headquarters for a project that helped employ rural Chinese women. It’s a considerable recognition of our commitment to gender equality. The prize, which was granted for the first time, comes from Arborus, the NGO that created the international label GEEIS* (Gender Equality European & International Standard). It is a label that validates efforts that major international companies pledge toward gender equality.
Preserving Family Life for Workers
For this first edition, the project “Plants Unlike Any Other” was selected: a program created in partnership with the Chinese suppliers of our company’s purchasing and ethics division, which sought to hire women from regions affected by rural exodus. The goal was to allow hundreds of workers, the majority of whom were women, to be gainfully employed without leaving their homes or families.
In order to do this, the company decided to entrust a substantial amount of the production of its promotional items (bags, pouches, gift boxes, etc.) to factories located in the disadvantaged, northwestern provinces of Anhui and Hunan, two of the areas most affected by economic migration in China. Between 2016 and 2018, 455 workers, two-thirds of whom were women, benefited from fairly paid employment without being separated from their loved ones. In this remote corner of China, the quest for work tears many parents from their family as they are hired thousands of kilometers away in the southeastern part of the country where industrial activity is concentrated.
Enlarging Ethical Purchasing
This project was carried out through the company’s solidarity sourcing program. Launched in 2010, and now boasting 234 initiatives, the program consists of making a portion of our purchases with businesses that share our values and commitments. Most notably, they share our ambitions to improve working conditions and to be inclusive toward vulnerable individuals, part of our overall strategy for responsible growth. Whether it’s choosing suppliers or accompanying them through this process, L'Oréal hopes “to use the company’s purchasing power as a lever for developmental and social progress,” explains Axelle Hallu, Solidarity Sourcing Director.
For all of these reasons, we’re particularly proud to be honored for our efforts towards gender equality. It echoes one of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals: to ensure the peace and prosperity of 2030, which is already integrated into our program “Sharing Beauty With All.”
“It’s a privilege and an honor for L’Oréal to receive the GEEIS SGD Trophy for this initiative in China,” said Margaret Johnston-Clarke, Group Vice-President for Diversity and Inclusion. “Gender equality is a longstanding commitment of ours, fundamental to the company’s diversity and inclusion strategy. The Solidarity Sourcing team went even further with this priority by promoting economic growth, equality and inclusion in the most disadvantaged rural provinces of China. Beyond this recognition, this prize— an initiative of Arborus— allows us to share our best practices in fighting gender inequality.”
*The GEEIS-SDG Trophy is awarded to 5 GEEIS-certified companies that are signatories of the UN’s Global Compact and have endorsed the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP). Today, 15 international companies are GEEIS-certified, representing 200 entities.