Now one of the world’s biggest beauty brands with 82,600 employees in 140 countries, it’s hard to believe L’Oréal’s humble beginnings. Visionary French chemist, Eugène Schueller, started the company in 1909 in his garage, first developing hair dyes.
At the time, hair dyes were not widely used by French women because most of them were toxic and irritated the scalp. But Schueller persisted, experimenting until his formula was a success and allowed him to launch his own company.
Not only were Schueller’s products innovative, but also his commitment to people – both his customers and employees – in a society that prized productivism. Over a hundred years later, Schueller’s founding ‘human-centric’ values endure and are at the heart of everything L’Oréal does.
We sat down with Carole Pasco-Domergue, Chief Marketing Officer for HR at L’Oréal, to discuss how this heritage brand manages to ‘lead the future of beauty’ while also maintaining their original ethos in today’s rapidly evolving beauty industry.
Glassdoor: What makes L’Oréal France’s #14 Best Place to Work?
Pasco-Domergue: The most important thing is keeping with our historical vision, which is to always put people and employee happiness at the centre of everything we do. Our founder famously said, ‘Companies are not about walls and machines, but people, people, people’.
Glassdoor: How does L’Oréal maintain its human-centric approach when companies have become so reliant on technology?
Pasco-Domergue: First, at its core, beauty is really connected to humanity. And although we are recognised as a technological leader and innovator of beauty, our goal of being person-focused will never change. But we aren’t afraid to adapt, change and take risks to stay competitive. That’s why our motto is ‘Lead the Future of Beauty’.
From a recruitment perspective, we use technology to enhance our recruitment process as we receive over two million applications per year! But this will never replace meeting a candidate in person, discovering what makes them unique and developing a human relationship with them. When I interview a person, I adapt to that person and their personality. All of our recruiters and hiring managers are trained to assesses what makes a person unique and their potential to grow.
Glassdoor: What do you look for in candidates?
Pasco-Domergue: At L’Oréal, entrepreneurial spirit is everything. Our ethos has always been to be innovative and daring and unafraid of taking risks. Our founder always said, ‘L’Oréal is a leader with the spirit of a challenger’. When looking for people to join our team, they have to have this spirit and personality. It is also extremely important for our people to be in love with their jobs. Not only to do it well, but to really enjoy it too.
Glassdoor: How would you describe the culture at L’Oréal?
Pasco-Domergue: Our culture is not very structured or hierarchal, but more of what I call an ‘organic matrix of organised chaos’. In order to do well and thrive, employers have to be comfortable with this kind of environment.
Glassdoor: How do you retain top talent?
Pasco-Domergue: Our retention rates are actually better compared to other companies of the same size. One thing we did that was quite unique and has had a big impact on retention and employee satisfaction, was to have all of our HR professionals be trained as certified professional coaches. Now, when employees come to HR with a problem or issue, the HR ‘coach’ no longer offers them a ready-made solution. Instead, they shift the autonomy, power and responsibility back to the employee to find a solution to their own problems and to find their own way within the company, which is critical to retention. It is more challenging for employees, but ultimately much more rewarding.
Also, if an employee comes to us with an idea of something they would like to change or do within the company, we really encourage this and have a lot of flexibility for them to pursue it, even if it means changing roles or departments.
Glassdoor: L’Oréal is often praised by employees for its generous benefits. What makes your package competitive?
Pasco-Domergue: L’Oréal has always believed in providing employees with generous benefits to promote their well-being. In fact, our founder invented the famous ‘Schueller month’, which is an additional month of maternity leave for new mothers. Following in his footsteps, we launched our ‘Share and Care’ programme, which provides our employees in 67 countries with a universal set of social benefits. Over 100 initiatives have also been set up by subsidiaries, making L’Oréal one of the world’s leading employers in terms of meeting the needs of employees in the four key areas of health, welfare, parenthood and quality of life at work.