Since 2012, L’Oréal has been attending the annual One Young World summit. Every year, it sends 40 or so bright young employees there to join the conversation about tomorrow’s challenges and come up with initiatives that will change the Group. Remy Simon oversees the project within L’Oréal. He tells us about this approach and how the Group supports its young people.
One Young World: young employees on a journey for L’Oréal
L’Oréal has been part of the annual One Young World summit for the last five years. The Group has already sent over 210 young employees from all over the world and every part of the business, seeking to raise their awareness and encourage them to take action on sustainability. “Since they are often highly committed to these issues, our younger employees are ideally placed to shake things up”, says Remy.
He sees One Young World as both a source of inspiration and a catalyst for action. At previous summits, held in cities such as Bangkok and Ottawa, and at this year’s event in Bogotá, Colombia, young L’Oréal employees get a new perspective as they meet and network with people from completely different worlds: “Participants include NGOs, young representatives from other companies, and famous personalities. It is a heady mix, creating an enriching environment that helps our delegates gain awareness about the challenges”, says Remy. Former delegates describe it as a life-changing experience.
What’s more, employees come back firmly resolved to play a part in transforming their company. As Remy explains: “They understand that being part of a major group can enhance the impact of their actions and that you don’t have to work at an NGO to have a positive effect on the world. They also realise that they have a critical role to play within the business and that everyone can bring their influence to bear, make their voice heard and effect change at their own level”.
Delegates come home with a real desire to take action both professionally and in a private capacity. Remy adds: “It is vital that we let this generation speak out within the company. They have to be heard, of course, but they also need to be able to have influence, generate ideas and make things happen. They are hungry for meaningful projects that will give real added value to their jobs. They are looking for agility and speed and want to have a real impact on their environment. All of that obviously generates value for our organisations”.
Spotting tomorrow’s leaders
All the delegates who will attend the summit are selected based on their ability to transform the Group, particularly in the area of sustainability. “Our aim is to identify people who are going to pick up the pace of change”, Remy explains.
How are delegates selected? “We combine HR nominations with a system of internal applications based on a global call for sustainability projects. Young managers pitch their ideas to a jury of HR and CSR reps. This year, we received 1,600 applications worldwide and picked six projects.”
Solid support from the Group during and after the summit
L’Oréal’s involvement does not end with sending delegates to One Young World. While they are at the event, delegates draw inspiration from each other, immerse themselves in the subject matter and talk about how to bring their big ideas to life in their company. When they return, they can count on the Group’s support. “We make a long-tem commitment. When they get back from the summit, they work in cross-country and cross-business groups. That kind of diversity benefits everyone”, says Remy.
Participants get the opportunity to present their project directly to Group Chairman and CEO Jean-Paul Agon. Each team is assigned a sponsor, who provides advice and oversight to ensure that projects are backed from the outset by the teams that will handle operational implementation. “The sponsor acts as a facilitator, putting teams in contact with the right people, keeping tabs on progress and opening as many doors as possible. Basically, the sponsor helps to get the project up and running”, says Remy.
Some 20 projects already up and running to tackle issues such as the environment, philanthropy and quality of life at work
Five years after L’Oréal first took part in One Young World, the work of its young delegates is bearing fruit. Some 20 projects have already been carried out worldwide. Examples include Interngration, an intern recruitment programme targeting skilled young refugees or My Green Coach, an app that connects employees with the Group’s sustainability programme, Sharing Beauty With All.
“It makes me so proud to see these young people flourish in their projects and to witness the impact they can have on the company. In just five years, they have shown that they can make themselves heard and design projects that are beneficial both to L’Oréal and to the world we live in”, says Rémy. What is the next challenge? “These people represent the voice of youth and, by extension, the future of the company. More and more, we need to call on them to test new ideas, provide support, offer advice and drive our transformation initiatives forward.” He signs off with these words: “Enthused by their experiences at One Young World, our young people feel connected to a cause. That gives added purpose to their work, which they realise can happen within a framework that provides value and utility. We are doing everything we can to encourage this fantastic nexus of creativity and action!”