The certification is the only one of its kind that recognized gender equality in the workplace across all industries and on an international basis, making it the litmus for this increasingly important aspect of business ethics.
The France-based cosmetics giant has been working towards the certification during a six month period, with the process including a comprehensive review of its gender policies and practices and a deep analysis of the data comprising its 10,000 employees in the U.S.
Analysis of all aspects of the business model
The process also included the interviewing of 3,000 of its employees to quiz them about how recruitment and promotion prospects were perceived, as well as assessing leadership training, flexible working, mentorship, company culture and equal pay.
“L’Oréal USA is a pioneer in its industry and in the U.S. by achieving certification,” said Aniela Unguresan, co-founder of EDGE Certified Foundation.
“The process is very rigorous and requires a high level of transparency. As a result of its certification, L’Oréal is showing consumers, investors and employees alike that they are genuinely committed to an issue that is crucial to success in a global marketplace.”
The result of the certification process has led to a roadmap that aims to continue the company’s evolution with respect to gender equality, by specifying key future objectives such as broader adoption of flexible working hours and continued development of leaders from both genders.
Clearing the L’Oréal name
Back in 2009 the company was convicted of racism by France’s highest courts, after it was proven that the company had hired whites only to sell its Garnier hair products.
The case was first brought to the French courts in 2000 when, tipped off by an employee from the recruitment agency, the charity SOS Racisme brought charges against the cosmetics giant.
According to the lawsuit, L’Oreal had issued a fax stating that employees called in to promote its Garnier hair products should be BBR, Bleu Blanc Rouge. The lawsuit alleged this was shorthand for white French people, cutting out any ethnic minorities.
In July 2007 the appeal court in Paris fined the three companies €30,000 for their discriminatory recruitment practices.