The next in our Q&A series with expert speakers of the very first Asia-Pacific Communication Summit is Lisa Wong.
In her presentation on Thursday November, 19 the L’Oréal Hong Kong communications director explores the nature of modern CSR and how it works alongside stakeholder engagement. The Summit will be held at the W Hotel Hong Kong on November 19 and 20: book your tickets now.
What inspired L’Oréal Hong Kong to become a champion of CSR initiatives and give back to the community?
L’Oreal firmly believes that beauty has the power to change people’s life, because beauty helps people to gain self-confidence and be connected with others. For more than a century, L’Oreal has set itself the mission – Beauty for All – to offer all women and men worldwide the very best of cosmetics innovation in terms of quality, efficacy and safety.
Riding on the Group’s commitment to diversity, science and innovation, and sustainability, we aim to mobilise resources and people to focus on causes that are of public interest and enable us to give back to the Hong Kong community.
How does CSR benefit a company?
CSR has two unique functions: it fills society gaps; it connects people. CSR refers to initiatives that answer societal needs. Usually a company identifies an issue which is of concern of the public (or key stakeholders) and that the company is capable of rectifying or adding value to the issue through its knowledge or expertise.
"The interaction with community and employees becomes a natural way for stakeholders to better understand the company’s mission and vision."
In doing so, the company has to reach out to its stakeholders and to the community where it operates. The company also has to involve its own employees when developing and implementing its CSR initiatives. The interaction with community and employees becomes a natural way for stakeholders to better understand the company’s mission and vision. The interface between the company and its stakeholders is therefore beyond business perspective (i.e., purchase of company’s products or services) or work perspectives (i.e., KPIs, performance review).
The company is humanised, more down-to-earth, more approachable, hence more understandable and likable. CSR helps a company to accumulate reputation and trust-worthiness.
Who are a company’s key internal stakeholders?
Employee is definitely the most important internal stakeholder of a company. For multinational corporations, colleagues in the regional and international teams are also important internal stakeholders. They should be kept posted on the challenges and development of local subsidiaries.
When it comes to stakeholder engagement, are some groups more important than others?
Every organisation has a number of stakeholder groups. It varies depending on the nature of business. Instead of saying one stakeholder group is more or less important than the other group, I would suggest that every organisation should set priorities when engaging stakeholders based on their analysis of stakeholder mapping, which focuses on the level of influence that a stakeholder has on an organisation. What is important is to decide on the priority and intensity when engaging.
One should note that any organisation operates in a dynamic environment, so stakeholder mapping is an on-going exercise. Analysis should therefore be done on a regular basis in order to adjust the priority and intensity of stakeholder engagement, in response to adjustments in business priority and/or external operating environment.
What have been some of your most meaningful initiatives in recent years?
Over the years, L’Oréal has successfully introduced CSR campaigns for the sake of the betterment for our community. We are delighted to share some of them:
1. Diversity and Inclusion is a recruitment and integration project that promotes equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities and people who are from different ethnic and social backgrounds.
The L’Oreal Group has 27 international beauty brands. As such, a diverse workforce in all functions and levels enhances our creativity and our understanding of consumers. It also allows us to develop and market products that are relevant to their want and needs. To achieve it, the Group has reinforced its focus on Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). In Hong Kong, we have developed a new business model for recruiting and integrating people with disabilities as direct hires. We also leverage the procurement process (through “Solidarity Sourcing”) to invite business partners to walk the same D&I journey as L’Oréal does by offering people with disabilities access to job opportunities.
2. Solidarity Sourcing is an initiative to open up the procurement process to new kinds of suppliers that employ people who are usually left out from the labour market. The objective is to offer disadvantaged people access to employment opportunities, hence stable income. We have included Solidarity Sourcing in all the Requests For Proposals since 2014. For example, through Hong Chi Association, we have people with disabilities looking after our staff cafeteria. Besides, we partner with Make The Right Call to manage customer service hotlines because this service provider recruits employees from the disadvantaged groups.
"Our CSR drives are highly connected with L’Oréal’s core values, business needs, and social needs."
3. Beauty for a Better Life is a training program in which L’Oréal transfers our expertise in beauty to people with disabilities, with the aim to raise their employability in open job market. In 2009, L’Oréal partnered with Hong Chi Association to create this training program. L’Oréal played dual roles in software and hardware enhancement. We trained the trainers and trainees in Hong Chi’s Integrated Vocational Training Centre.
Besides, we provided funding and performed the role of industry consultant to transform an ordinary classroom into a professional hair salon, and donated hair care products. So far over 180 people were trained. The program has enhanced trainees’ self-confidence, independence and employability for future development. This project was awarded the “Outstanding Partnership Project” in the Caring Company Scheme 2009/10.
4. Citizen Day is an annual global event where all L’Oréal employees around the world can take part in voluntary services within their local communities, under the slogan: “We all have a role to play!” This year, we partnered with Caritas Hong Kong and organised a fun fair in a secondary school where majority of the students are from different ethnic minority groups. The objective is to promote social inclusion and harmony.
In a nutshell, our CSR drives are highly connected with L’Oréal’s core values, business needs, and social needs. Looking forward, we will continue to create innovative and meaningful projects that meet social needs and are in alignment with L'Oréal's values.
Lisa Wong is currently director of communication, public affairs and sustainable development of L’Oréal Hong Kong. Prior to L’Oréal, Lisa had extensive working experience in corporate communications as a consultant and as in-house executive in the aviation and higher education sectors.