As the world's largest beauty company, L'Oréal has the opportunity and resources to empower women, its core consumers, to pursue careers in science, technology, computer science, and digital marketing. These are the fields that drive L'Oréal's beauty innovation, from the invention of new molecules to the marketing of new products.
company was founded by a scientist and for more than 100 years, scientific
innovation has continued to be at the core of L'Oréal's business strategy. The
company relies on the contributions women make in the STEM (science,
technology, engineering and maths) fields every day, with women making up 70
per cent of L'Oréal's 4,000-strong scientific workforce.
of our belief that women need science and science needs women, the L'Oréal
Foundation created a programme, For Women in Science,
which recognizes and rewards women scientists around the world at critical
stages of their career. The programme has been extremely successful, helping
more than 2,000 scientists in over 100 countries since the global programme
began in 1998.
Women in Digital
by this initiative, I set out to create L'Oréal's Women In Digital programme in
the US, aimed at simultaneously supporting women who are underrepresented in technology fields and
keeping our business at the cutting edge. The Women in Digital programme
identifies female entrepreneurs and
provides them with the opportunity to launch and scale their digital
innovations with L'Oréal brands and impact the future of the beauty industry.
As a way to provide mentorship and act as a springboard for these young
companies to grow, L'Oréal also connects these entrepreneurs with its advisory
board, network of venture capitalists and other top executives.
we were exploring the idea of the programme, it was clear that there were not enough women coming to the table in the digital marketing or technology arenas,
nor were there enough women at conferences and events, and certainly not enough
sticking with technology studies at school in order to go on and become IT
experts. We asked ourselves if our industry was marginalizing women the way
Hollywood often has, even though women form the majority of our customer base.
worries around female entrepreneurs in technology were also confirmed with
facts. We noticed that only a fraction of venture capitalists were women, and
therefore there was often a huge disconnect between female entrepreneurs and
the male investors they were pitching for funding.
women only make up 24 per cent of STEM workers in the US, only 14 per cent of
the country's engineers and 27 per cent of computer science professionals.
Without appropriate female representation, the potential STEM innovations of
tomorrow will be missing a large part of the talent in our world.
Changing the conversation
are now in the third year of our Women In Digital programme, which is part of
L'Oréal USA's NEXT Fund, a pool of money set aside for corporate grants for
technology entrepreneurs. Our aim is to change the conversation around women in
technology and really support their success.
of the most high profile elements of our programme is the Next Generation Awards,
where we award the most innovative female technology entrepreneurs. We have a
set of criteria that are most important for our business, and the women
pitching the ideas are assessed by our advisory board made up of female leaders
in tech including Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington and Cisco chief technology officer
Padmasree Warrior. The top three awarded companies have the chance to pilot
their ideas at L'Oréal USA.
A beautiful industry
Women in Digital entrepreneurs have truly brought us game-changing technology
over the years. In our first year of the awards, among the winners we chose
Bettina Hein of Pixability, a specialized video marketing business with a
fantastic big data platform. In the last three years, her platform successfully
expanded and is now a highly scalable partner we can work with. In our second
year, one of our winners was Heather Marie of Shoppable.com, formerly 72Lux,
which links multiple shopping carts together in a universal checkout and is
perfect for our audience.
is stunning how advanced the technology discussion is becoming, and how women
are developing and sharing some of the most groundbreaking ideas. This year,
one of our selections was Cynthia Breazeal of Jibo, a company that develops
'social robots' with personality, for the home. At our recent internal
Inspiration Day, focused on innovation, there was extensive discussion around
robotics, as well as 3D printing, self-driving cars and other innovative
systems, and the impact they can have on our industry's future.
Foundation for success
this is a US programme, our ambition is to expand Women in Digital globally. It
still feels like a start-up compared to our big vision, and we'll continue to
think about how we can best incubate all of these fantastic new ideas, and how
we can change the discussion around women in technology. The programme supports
amazing, inspiring women in the field, which is vital to our own future
innovation and success.
(Top photo: from left to right: Tania Yuki - Founder & CEO, Shareablee, Dr. Cynthia Breazeal - Founder & CEO, Jibo and Victoria Eisner - Chief Creative Officer & Co-Founder, GLAMSQUAD, this year's winners of the L'Oreal Next Generation Award - all of whom can now pilot their ideas at L'Oréal USA)