Historically, whenever humanity has experienced a major scientific or technological innovation, legislation is passed very soon afterwards to mitigate its effects. While this has clearly been the trend since the Middle Ages, a new phenomenon has recently and rapidly emerged; while the pace of innovation has accelerated exponentially, the same cannot be said for new legislation. In fact, the latter is often found to lag far behind.
Innovation is advancing rapidly but the legal framework is struggling to keep pace. This is indeed the case for biotechnology, big data, artificial intelligence, automation etc. These are major issues affecting today’s society which, if poorly understood, could put the planet and the very future of the human race at risk.
For all that, companies, especially larger ones, still have to make decisions and, in such circumstances, it is ethics which fills the void left by the relative decline in the importance of Law. Decisions made on the basis of management by ethical values and principles are becoming more and more prevalent as a result of rapid innovation
As a result, the major forces behind these innovations are beginning to reflect deeply on the implications of these issues. And, given that the learning process is ‘on the job’, and that change is so rapid, mistakes will inevitably be made, as can be seen from the recent case of the web giants and management of internet users’ personal data
The recent crisis also reveals that the level of sincerity shown in pursuing an ethical approach is one of the main distinguishing criteria for decoding the decisions of organisations which claim to take ethics seriously. In fact, as soon as such principles and values are uttered, the only thing that really matters is what follows in terms of genuine action and that those companies which have adopted an ethics-based approach are invited to ‘walk the talk’.
Ethics and trust, the flip side of the coin
Traditionally, companies are primarily valued on the basis of the tangible value that they generate or on their financial and accounting attributes.
For Mr Emmanuel Lulin, L’Oréal’s Director of Ethics, “the ethics aspect must be regarded as an additional factor to enhancing a company’s culture of integrity. The more upstanding a company, the higher its value and the greater the likelihood of it being able to survive over the long term.”
Similarly, a company’s ability to build and maintain trust is crucial to its enhancing its value. “L’Oréal needs the trust of its customers, its suppliers and each of its stakeholders, including its employees. If a business is not able to generate trust, its value can drop substantially” adds Mr Lulin.
The boycott of Moroccan brands in recent weeks perfectly illustrates the fact that a culture of integrity and transparency is not enough when there is a breakdown in trust.
To get back on track, time, sincerity, integrity, respect, transparency and even courage are required to restore trust and be once again deserving of it. Because ethics is a long road which requires a high degree of self-sacrifice.
L’Oréal, which has adopted an approach which differentiates it from its peers, provides a perfect example of this. At the instigation of its Chairman, Jean-Paul Agon, the Group’s ethical approach is one of positive choice based on conviction. “It’s not a response but, instead, a proactive and deliberate approach”, says Emmanuel Lulin.
“L’Oréal is convinced that, in the 21st century, only those companies that have incorporated ethics into their culture, strategy and daily practices will survive over the long term. We aim to be one of the most exemplary companies in the world. The ‘L’Oréal Spirit’ embodies the commitment made by L’Oréal to act ethically and responsibly, based on our four Ethical Principles – Respect, Integrity, Courage and Transparency.”
The approach adopted by L’Oréal, which has operations in 150 countries and just under 82,000 employees, is founded upon sincerity, one which is relatively rare among large enterprises. Therein lies its secret, the ability to square the circle, place human beings at the core, ensure that ethical issues have real meaning.
For example, by conducting an open and frank dialogue, without any waffle, about a whole range of issues, including those which are taboo, employees are able to disseminate the company’s values while tackling issues head-on. A sincerity-based approach makes it possible to diagnose the root causes and take corrective measures without double standards.
Ethics, underpinned by sincerity, then becomes an irrevocable and definitive part of an organisation’s DNA.
MR EMMANUEL LULIN’S BIOGRAPHY
Emmanuel LULIN, appointed as Chief Ethics Officer and Advisor to the Chairman in 2007. Reports directly to the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, also responsible for overseeing Human Rights compliance within the Group.
Emmanuel Lulin joined L’Oréal in 1999 as Group General Counsel for Human Resources. In 2007, he set up the Office of the Group Chief Ethics Officer. Before joining L’Oréal, he was admitted to the Paris Bar in 1988 and practised as a corporate and tax lawyer at Debevoise & Plimpton in Paris and New York. He holds a Master of Laws from Chicago University and a law degree from the French Universities of Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne) and Paris II (Assas). In 1988, he was the Lavoisier laureate of the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
He has been a Fellow of the Ethics Resource Center (Washington) since 2016. He was formerly Chair of the Global Council on Business Conduct (New York) and sits on MEDEF’s Ethics Committee. Emmanuel represents L’Oréal in a number of international organisations including the UN Global Compact, UN Women and the Institute of Business Ethics (London).
Instrumental in setting up the first Master’s in Business Law and Ethics in France, he is a member of several university scientific committees and journals specialising in business ethics. He teaches regularly at Stanford, Sciences-Po Paris, CEDEP and EDHEC.
Ethisphere Institute recognised Emmanuel as a Top Ethics & Compliance Officer in 2012, 2014 and 2017. In 2015, he became the first non-American to be awarded the Carol R. Marshall Award for Innovation in Corporate Ethics by the Ethics and Compliance Initiative (ECI). He was a member of the Ethics Committees of the French Agency for Development (AFD) and the French Institute of Directors (IFA) and was a former director of the Cercle Montesquieu, the Ethics & Compliance Officer Association in the United States (2007-2012) and the Cercle Ethique des Affaires in France (2011-2017).
He founded the Cercle Ethique des Affaires’ Club for Ethics Professionals in 2012 and chaired the ORSE working group on Ethics, Responsibility and Corporate Strategy (2017). He initiated ThinkH + with Sciences Po Paris’ Law Clinic, France’s first think tank on transhumanism.
L’Oréal’s has been recognised 9 times by Ethisphere as one of the ‘World’s Most Ethical Companies”.
In 2017, L’Oréal was awarded the first ever Transparency Grand Prix for its Code of Ethics. In 2018, L’Oréal was honoured to receive the Award for Excellence from the Law and Business Ethics Chair of the University of Cergy-Pontoise for its initiatives in business ethics and governance in the following categories: Ethical Governance, Ethical Leadership and Ethical Influencer.
L’ORÉAL’S CODE OF ETHICS
- Benchmark document for the Group
- First published in 2000 (one of the first French companies to do so)
- Second edition published in 2007 (available in 35 languages/43 versions + in braille English/French)
- Third edition published in 2014 (available in 45 languages + braille English/French)
- In 2017, L’Oréal was awarded the L’Oréal was awarded the first ever Transparency Grand Prix for its Code of Ethics
Original article : https://lnt.ma/confiance-ethique-deux-marqueurs-de-loreal-2/