LVMH boosts its engagement against discrimination
LVMH continues to affirm its engagement in favour of diversity and against all forms of discrimination. The world’s number one luxury group last month signed the international code of conduct promoted by the UN against the discrimination of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. A few days before the signature, LVMH staged a series of events in France and internationally to promote diversity and inclusivity in the workplace.
The group underlined the fact that it first embraced this approach 10 years ago, notably by introducing a specific code of conduct in 2009, then revised in 2017, which calls for “fighting against all forms of discrimination in the workplace, including for sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as with regards to LGBTQ clients, suppliers and distributors, insisting also that [the group's] commercial partners do likewise.”
LVMH encouraged its labels to engage in this effort, which has intensified in recent years. As shown for example by last year’s appointment of Virgil Abloh as creative director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s collections - he is the only black designer currently in charge of style for an international luxury label. Abloh, born in the USA to Ghanaian parents, immediately made his intent clear, picking models from all continents from his very first show for Louis Vuitton, and also referencing the rainbow flag, the symbol of the LGBTQ movement. Other labels within Bernard Arnault's empire also feature or make reference to gender-neutral creations, such as JW Anderson, in which LVMH has a 46% stake, or fragrance label Maison Francis Kurkdjian with its Gentle Fluidity perfume.
The group’s policy also includes specific anti-discrimination training for its HR recruiters, first introduced in 2011, and a series of tests designed to eliminate all forms of discrimination in the hiring process, carried out worldwide by an independent agency. LVMH told FashionNetwork.com it has introduced “practical tools to heighten awareness for non-discrimination in recruiting,” and has developed an international training programme focusing on the issue of unconscious bias and on inclusive leadership. The programme will be deployed by the end of 2019, and is aimed at all the group’s employees who occupy key roles.
The group has also grasped that the battle against discrimination must start as early as possible in the process. LVMH’s Institut des métiers d’excellence (the luxury group’s vocational training institute) has signed collaboration agreements with the French towns of Clichy and Montfermeil. While not all the young people in training will join the group's labels, the initiative serves as a way to bring new perspectives into the sector.
“In today’s world, where singularities are asserting themselves, to be able to understand, include and favour them is a formidable driver for our sector,” said Chantal Gaemperle, director for Human Resources and Synergies at LVMH. Even more so in light of the profound changes in the profile of the luxury consumer over the past decade. Diversity, exemplified by the success of Virgil Abloh or that of the Fenty Beauty by Rihanna cosmetics line, launched in 2017 by Sephora, can open up new commercial horizons. These examples show that, beyond being an undeniably progressive step forward, diversity is also a strong growth driver of value for businesses.
In this context, on March 13, LVMH brought together at its Parisian headquarters 300 guests, among them the members of its executive committee and several CEOs and HR directors of its labels, “to celebrate the results achieved in terms of workplace gender equality, and to continue to boost [the group’s] commitment in promoting diversity and inclusion.” For the occasion, LVMH launched its ‘Inclusion Index’, an initiative designed to stimulate internal action on diversity, and to promote efforts in support of the group's diversity goals.
The luxury goods giant intends to achieve gender parity in key executive roles by 2020. In 2007, 23% of these roles were filled by women, a figure which rose to 42% in 2018. The EllesVMH community, which regularly organises coaching and mentoring sessions, was created to facilitate women’s careers at all levels within the group, in all of its geographical regions and labels. In March, the initiative was augmented by the Shero project, an internal website and community which advocates women’s career growth by publishing articles, podcasts and videos, and by sharing experiences.
It is an all-encompassing commitment for LVMH, a must in a globalised world where social media is increasingly influential. Like the French luxury giant, more and more brands and corporations are integrating diversity and inclusivity at the core of their strategies, alongside sustainable development. These elements are becoming essential to ensure the luxury industry's long-term growth.
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