Given how uncertain the world of people and work continues to be, building future ready, digitally empowered companies becomes a critical endeavour. This demands HR leaders to make a number of serious investments in the domain of talent acquisition, building an attractive employee brand as well as sustaining a learning culture within the organisation. In a recent interview with People Matters, Priya Pandit, Head of Talent Acquisition, Employer Branding and D, E & I, L’Oreal shared some key insights on L’Oreal borderless talent strategy, its commitment to encouraging diversity and inclusion within the company as well as its emphasis on building a learning culture to encourage capability building and to keep the job profiles of their employees in motion.
A firm believer in building, not buying new talent, Priya’s goal is to determine and establish the ingredients for creating a successful approach to building talent at the world’s largest beauty company. Prior to joining L'Oréal in 2019, she was the head for leadership hiring and talent management across all businesses of RPG Group globally. She has led several HR and organization cases in the field of cultural change, employee communications, talent management and developed innovative global talent sourcing mechanisms. She also specializes in diagnosing people issues, advising solutions, managing stakeholder relationships.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Talent continues to be one critical resource that drives business growth, however finding the right fit for your company is far from an easy task. What are some of the strategies innovated by L’Oreal to invite and retain the best talent?
The talent strategies that we have innovated at L’Oreal are across the spectrum from building our pipeline by hiring fresh talent from all across India and the globe to even recruiting senior profiles for acquiring very critical, capability skills. As our company has begun to completely embrace the remote working model, there has been an expansion in the available workforce but simultaneously, the competition for acquiring the best talent has been on the rise. A borderless talent strategy is thus in operation wherein we promote internationalisation of roles for a global company.
At L’Oreal, a number of programs are in place from those catering to fresh hires to our flagship L’Oreal management trainee program wherein we globally hire management trainees for L’Oreal. We have ongoing sales and engineering trainee programs as well which focus on those hired to work in these divisions. E-internships are also an ongoing initiative where globally anyone can work as an intern at our company. At this junior spectrum, another key initiative that we have carried out is the “L’Oreal on Campus 2021” event which is a digital showcase of our company; simultaneously, other engagement programs like the sustainability challenge or the brandstorm are also initiated to hire talent and provide students an idea of what L’Oreal as a company is as well as approach it on an even playing field. Career 2.0 is another interesting program we have running which empowers talented women to come back to work after a break.
We’re also exploring the gig economy which has become a solid part of our recruitment strategy and is beginning to blossom in India. In sum, our talent strategy consists of building from scratch by hiring fresh talent, recruiting senior leaders for key skills relevant to business strategy and rent & borrow talent which comprises both the gig economy as well as our borderless talent strategy.
Being a digital first company, how has L’Oreal leveraged the use of digital solutions to acquire and retain talent? What have been the benefits?
L’Oreal has gone on a very interesting journey from being a beauty company to a beauty-tech company. One thing that however we must keep in mind is while there are digital solutions available to hire talent, what is a priority is finding talent well versed in the digital because we’re likely to face a severe shortage in this arena. What we at L’Oreal are doing to build a pool of digitally skilled talent is to first know where we can find them following which how we can hire them; the second thing is to nurture talent within our very own company. Digitally skilled talent can be both acquired from outside and indeed cultivated within the organisation which is why we are embracing a digital culture.
What this digital culture does is introduce employees in-depth to the digital imperatives of the company as well as master select digital skills and functions. The biggest challenge is ultimately pushing people to embrace digital and not the deployment of digital solutions for hiring.
These days, employees no longer focus on salary perks and company facilities but are looking at the larger organisational culture in terms of diversity and inclusion as well as opportunities for growth. In light of this, what are some of the critical imperatives in building an attractive employee brand and how has L’Oreal incorporated these in their work environment?
Our company’s EVP is “Freedom to go beyond: That’s the beauty of L’Oreal.” This in itself showcases our dynamic work environment which is built on four pillars: growth, diversity, entrepreneurship and impact.
At L’Oreal, growth encapsulates the possibilities of working in a variety of jobs within the company fold itself thereby offering our employees the opportunity to shape their own career across multiple functions and locations. The beauty in this is that the profiles of our employees are always in motion. When it comes to diversity, our team members must be as diverse as the consumers we serve, which is why we are focused on recruiting diverse talent as well as fostering a culture of inclusion.
Coming to the entrepreneurship aspect, what we believe in is a simple line: run it like it's your own business. This pushes one to build a career path never seen before. Finally, impact which is our fourth pillar is a far reaching imperative. We work to build a more diverse and fairer world for each other and our planet.
Coming back to targeted D&I initiatives, it must be a consistent process that reaches out to the entire workforce. In other words, everyone must feel that they belong but this becomes a little tricky at a global level. How has L’Oreal enabled this culture of belonging and inclusivity at global and local levels?
At L’Oreal, we truly believe that stronger companies and stronger communities are created when people of every culture, background and lifestyle are accepted and valued. One of the greatest achievements of L’Oreal has been our groundbreaking work on personalisation of beauty. The fact that there is no single or unique model of beauty but it can have infinite, diverse forms with linkages to culture, history or personalities. And this achievement rests entirely on our work with diversity, equity and inclusion.
In order to turn the concept of unique beauty into reality for our consumers, we significantly work hard to recruit the most talented individuals that are distinct from each other be it in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, work experience, financial background and the like. To put it simply, the more the difference, the better it is.
Because of our diverse talent, L’Oreal has been able to build a portfolio of brands embodying the plurality of beauty. This diversity of thought and intellect has been deeply celebrated at our 150+ geographies where L’Oreal ahd built its presence. It has enabled us to achieve success at both global and local levels.
Flexible working policies are also at play along with promotion decisions being completely bias free and based on hard data to further create a culture of inclusion. We have invested in tailored talent development, coaching to empower them to thrive and stay on. All of these small investments have yielded significant, long term results and enabled a culture of inclusion.
It is not enough to simply acquire the best talent, retention is a critical process of the talent management cycle as well. One of the best ways to retain talent is to offer them learning opportunities. Following this, how has L’Oreal incorporated a learning culture within the organisation?
L’Oreal boasts a very strong culture of learning and provides ample opportunities for diversification of expertise among our employees. Within India, multiple platforms have been created to engage with our people and enable them to build the right skills. Our Digital Learning Series had a deep focus on digital upskilling and achieving our mission “Digital for All”. In this three month long series, we had bite sized learning modules by global internal and external experts on a range of digital topics from data analytics to digital marketing. This was a huge success with over 3,500 hours of digital learning logged. Our Digital Ninja Series which is titled “Learning for the future” and is aimed at upskilling experts in digital brand, e-commerce by offering them a 7-part certification course to train them in the basics of programmatic media buying, advertising and the like.
The lines between digital and any other function are blurred which points out to the need for digital efficiency and digital upskilling. With these targeted initiatives to take advantage of the digital transformation the company is going through, the concept of democratised learning for all is constantly encouraged. The opportunity to grow and thrive is offered to everyone irrespective of the job role. Learning at L’Oreal is more than just about talent retention, it goes beyond and is about capability building.
Finally, from your experience as an HR leader, what are some of the key insights about thriving in this new world of work that you would like to share with your fellow talent leaders?
The most crucial task for companies to ensure at this juncture is ‘Are we ready for the future?’ My first advice is to assess whether our companies are future ready because the pace at which the world of work is changing is quite intense and complex. Future ready companies know what they are, what they stand for and they operate with a fixation on speed and simplicity so they grow by their ability to scale up and innovate and this is what we must thrive for.
Also, I truly believe that the only way to facilitate this transformation and create a positive change is through HR and what we must do is deeply reflect on how we can use the power of HR wisely. One more thing is that the focus on talent acquisition should spread throughout the organisation because winning on talent is critical for every single person in the organisation. It is the “We are all recruiters” mindset that I encourage. And finally, leaders must tap into young talent by understanding them and not changing them.