Three questions for Chantal Gaemperle, LVMH Executive Vice President, Human Resources & Synergies as LVMH publishes its 2019 Social Responsibility Report
© Jean-François Robert
1 – The publication of the 2019 LVMH Social Responsibility Report comes during the Covid-19 crisis. How do you view the Group’s social responsibility policy in the context of this unprecedented crisis?
This crisis is unique in both its gravity and its international scope. My first thoughts are for all those who continued to work, all those who helped already fragile people pull through as the crisis made them even more vulnerable, and of course all those who contracted the disease.
The crisis revealed who we are: committed! This commitment enabled – among a long list of initiatives – manufacturing of hand sanitizer gel, as well as masks and gowns for medical facilities, municipalities, non-profits and several large organizations, and providing meals for healthcare personnel, for example. What’s more, thanks to the efficiency of our global network, LVMH was able to provide much-needed medical equipment for public entities.
The social responsibility policy we have pursued for more than a decade now reflects our deep belief that “people make the difference”. Our policy is anchored in respect for people, for their individuality and their diversity, in doing everything necessary to protect their health and safety, in passing on the unique savoir-faire that constitutes our heritage, and in supporting vulnerable and fragile populations.
Our local actions have enabled us to build a vast network of partners, representatives of host communities in countries and cities where we are present, non-profits and NGOs with which we work to promote causes we believe in.
The LVMH Group was able to swiftly respond to help fight Covid-19 thanks to the talent, motivation and mobilization of our people around the world. This very meaningful engagement constitutes an essential asset in attracting and nurturing the loyalty of talented people and customers alike.
2 – Another issue shows that there is still a lot of progress to be made in terms of diversity and respect for individuality. What is LVMH’s position here?
We do indeed have a long way to go and we recognize this, but our determination remains unwavering. Recent events remind us how prejudice and stereotypes can have tragic consequences. LVMH and its Maisons clearly and unreservedly condemn racism and all forms of discrimination.
At the same time, condemning racism and discrimination also means taking concrete actions over the long-term to build a more inclusive organization where people can be themselves without having to hide or deny any part of their identity, where they can fully express their talent. It is essential that we guarantee respect for everyone. And it is essential that everyone be able to make their voice heard without having to confront daily microaggressions, which are often dictated by stereotypes and a biased vision of things, or simply by a lack of awareness. This is why it is so important to talk about these issues.
LVMH and its Maisons have launched multiple initiatives over the past ten years to fight discrimination and strengthen inclusion.
We began by applying the most demanding standards for recruitment and by conducting regular discrimination test campaigns. We strengthened the LVMH Code of Conduct and introduced mandatory anti-discrimination training for all recruiters.
In 2019 we introduced training to heighten awareness of stereotypes, prejudice and unconscious bias among all our employees at every level of the organization. We continued this process in 2020 despite the conditions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
We are continuing and supporting our longstanding commitments:
– Recruiting, retaining and supporting inclusion for people with disabilities.
– Another objective is gender equality. We first needed to break through the glass ceiling. In 2007, only 23% of key positions were held by women, a number that has now risen to 44% thanks to the EllesVMH program, which is active at LVMH around the world. In 2019 seven women were named CEO at our Maisons and we launched SHERO, an inclusive platform to engage people around the theme of gender parity.
During Pride Month, we recently reaffirmed out commitment to LGBTI people. In March 2019, the Executive Committee of LVMH and our Maisons signed the UN Standards of Conduct for Business to combat discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, and Intersex people, an unequivocal sign of our support for the rights of individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or identity. This also emphasizes that guaranteeing an inclusive culture where each individual is respected and can thrive professionally is everyone’s business!
We of course recognize that we still have progress to make. We all have a role to play, not only our Human Resources teams, but all our employees, because this is a human imperative. The diversity of our people and respect for each individual’s identity inspire creativity and innovation at all our Maisons and thus contribute to their success. My role is to inspire the organization at every level to promote this multifacetted diversity and ensure that inclusion benefits everyone. Everyone must dare to be themselves to fully achieve their potential at every stage in their career.
3 – What are some other initiatives you believe are particularly significant?
The artisans at our Maisons have unique savoir-faire that has been passed on for generations and elevates our creations. We believe we have a responsibility to preserve these time-honored skills and pass them on to new generations. We are very proud of the creation in 2014 of the Institut des Métiers d’Excellence LVMH, whose vocation is to preserve the savoir-faire of our artisans. Apprentices are selected for their passion for artisanal craftsmanship, creativity and retailing and can train in some 20 different professions, from couturier, leather goods artisans and trunkmakers to jewelers, designers or sales advisors, for example. Recruitment is carried out in collaboration with specialist organizations that promote equal opportunity in order to reach out to young people from underserved areas, people with disabilities, and people seeking to embark on new careers. In France we organize an annual vocational trade fair in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, an area that suffers from a serious shortage of stable employment opportunities and where we are involved in a host of different initiatives.
Some 800 apprentices have joined the IME since its launch in France, Italy and Switzerland, and 97% earned their degree. What’s more, their placement rate in the luxury sector is 74%.
In the current turbulent environment, we are making a special effort to support our young apprentices, maintaining their contracts. Many of them will be able to extend their coursework and receive support until they complete their degrees.
Another support program that I want to see further expanded was launched in 2019 to aid people over the age of 25 who face particular challenges as they seek to rejoin the workforce. This led to the creation of a special vocational training program called LIVE, for L’Institut des Vocations pour l’Emploi. LIVE provides a 360° support program that combines upskilling in core areas with vocational training, alongside opportunities to discover a range of professions. The first center opened on September 16 last year in Clichy-sous-Bois, welcoming a first group of 55 candidates. Two more centers will open in France in the coming months.
All these different initiatives reflect our spirit, inspired both by a desire to preserve the savoir-faire and heritage that are absolutely indispensable for us, coupled with a strong commitment to social responsibility that contributes to building a better world. We need to offer a helping hand to those in need, to those who lack confidence in their talent and their potential. That is definitely how I intend to play my role, by integrating this essential imperative of inclusion, and by doing everything possible to ensure that this spirit is shared by everyone at LVMH.