L’Oréal: along with HR, why the corporate has a human rights directorate

L’Oréal: along with HR, why the corporate has a human rights directorate

In an exclusive interview with EXAME, Helen Pedroso, director of corporate responsibility and human rights at L’Oreal, explains the importance of the position in the company’s business strategy

Topics such as corporate social responsibility and diversity and inclusion tend to appear in companies, especially in the areas of sustainability and human resources. But, in addition to these areas, the cosmetics manufacturer L’Oréal works with a corporate responsibility and human rights directorate. In Brazil, the position was taken over by Helen Pedroso in June this year, whose challenge is to guarantee, for example, the salary and decent work of the company’s employees and the supply chain.

In an interview with EXAME, the executive explains how the position differs from the more traditional ones in companies, as well as how her professional trajectory culminated in her current experience. “Companies need to deal with issues such as poverty, inclusion and dignity. Today my role is to look at the situation of the company, which is taking on ambitious goals, and to connect people for common efforts”, she says. See the full interview below.

Why does L’Oréal have a corporate responsibility and human rights directorate?

L’Oréal is a company that works with a large investment in diversity and inclusion for business innovation and the betterment of society. In my trajectory I met companies that looked at causes in the last 20 years, but it was here that I saw important actions such as support for the Decent Salary of the UN Global Compact Brazil, with L’Oréal being the first to join the movement in which all employees has guaranteed living wages and, by 2030, all employees of the company’s strategic suppliers will also have a living wage. In addition, the company is huge and has a great impact capacity. In these last two months I have been proud to occupy this board.

What kind of training or professional experience led you to occupy the position?

At the age of 18 I had the opportunity to participate in a Pan American Health Organization event in the United States, representing Brazil. There I understood that I wanted to look at public policies from the perspective of psychology and, since then, I continue to dedicate myself to environmental and social causes.

I worked at the Coca-Cola Institute and at Ronald McDonald’s. I also had relationships with companies from virtually all sectors, but on the other side of the counter. In the last year, I have observed the challenges of more than 1,500 companies to fulfill the 2030 Agenda based on their work in the UN Global Compact Brazil. There I got in touch with L’Oréal, which was looking for someone with experience beyond the traditional corporate.

This is a position directly linked to the C-Level. How important is this structure?

This makes a difference and puts the agenda at the heart of the business, as it needs to be. Companies need to address issues such as poverty, inclusion and dignity. Today my role is to look at the situation of the company, which is taking on ambitious goals, and to connect people for common efforts.

There is a work to look at the reality of Brazil, with 56% of blacks in the general population, but only 5% in company leaders, for example, and seek to change the scenario. We want 30% of the leadership to be made up of black people by 2025.

There are other goals such as helping 100,000 people from needy communities to have access to work; and benefit 3 million people through the social engagement programs of the Group’s brands (access to water, access to education and vocational training) by 2030. To this end, we work on the issue of responsibility in four ethical principles: integrity, respect, courage and transparency .

How are Brazil’s actions connected with the company’s global strategy?

There is a global human rights committee and actions are monitored. It involves people from human resources and sustainability, as well as communication and other areas. We meet every three months to ensure that we are closer to mirroring reality, guaranteeing rights, having products for all consumers, as well as promoting the retention and attraction of talent. It is important to note that we also work on out-of-home actions.

Another important point is that around 100 people in Brazil are involved with human rights and responsibility issues throughout the production process, from product idea to execution. This is not a job that can be done by just one person, it is a cultural issue at L’Oréal.

What are examples of human rights actions for external communities?

We have 23 social projects throughout Brazil, benefiting 3,000 women. These projects run from 2021 to 2024, considering the positive impact on the lives of vulnerable and indigenous women. One example is the Jenipapo Urucum Pre-University School, which prepares indigenous women for access to higher education. The result of a partnership between the National Association for Indigenous Action (Anai) and L’Oréal Brasil, the project has already served more than 180 young people from 50 different villages and 12 Brazilian states in 2021. The project has just won the award from the newspaper O Globo It makes a difference.

Another case is the Formare training program for young people from low-income families, which aims to support them in developing the skills and qualities needed for the job market. The teachers are volunteers from L’Oréal itself. The program lasts for 1 year and has a minimum workload of 800 hours. At the end of the course, students can be recruited as operators and receive a certificate recognized by the Ministry of Education. Today we have more than 100 graduates.

Source: Exam

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