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Published: April 27, 2009
Jean-Paul Agon's Acceptance Speech for the 2008 Stanley C. Pace Leadership in Ethics Award
PACE Leadership In Ethics Award Presented to L'Oreal CEO Jean-Paul Agon
Read full press release
Thank you Patricia, thank you Jackie for these very flattering words of introduction.
I am especially humbled by the fact that they are coming from two such recognized leaders of the Ethics Community.
I am extremely honored to receive the Ethics Resources Center’s Pace Award for Leadership in Ethics.
This year, L’ORÉAL is celebrating its Centenary.
Ethics is far from being a new subject at L’ORÉAL. It may not have been called Ethics at the time but throughout the years, L’ORÉAL’s management has always referred to our values, to the way we do things, to the L’ORÉAL Spirit.
I am thinking of Francois DALLE, one of L’ORÉAL’s past CEOs, whose writings stressed the importance of values and of individuals. These writings continue to inspire me to this day.
A particular word of thanks to our Chairman, Sir Lindsay OWEN-JONES, who unfortunately could not be with us this evening. During his 18 years as CEO of L’ORÉAL, he was the inspiration behind the way we look at Ethics and the driving force behind the first edition of our Code of Business Ethics.
This award is recognition of something which we have always done and been proud of. There is continuity in the way we look at Ethics. It is simply more visible now as we grow and have employees throughout the world.
So what characterizes L’ORÉAL’s approach to Ethics ?
It could be summed up in two simple words: trust and transparency.
These are two principles on which we do not compromise.
I have great trust in L’ORÉAL employees around the world. Our Ethics program is built on the idea that employees always try to do what is best for the company. Our Ethics program therefore concentrates on values rather than rules.
I believe that if you appeal to people’s intelligence and sense of responsibility, then compliance follows as a beneficial side effect. Systems based on a lack of trust and simple obedience of rules are doomed to fail.
For example, I believe you get further talking about diversity rather than talking about discrimination, talking about integrity rather than talking about fraud, talking about loyalty rather than talking about conflict of interests.
The second word I believe in is transparency.
At L’ORÉAL, we encourage dialogue on ethics throughout the organization. The best way to ensure that all issues are addressed is to make staff comfortable in raising them at every level.
So in practice, what does this mean?
It means for example that the L’ORÉAL Ethics team is on purpose light because they can call upon all the teams and resources already existing within the company to carry out their mission. In doing so, our values are integrated into our every-day activities throughout the whole organization rather than being seen as an “add-on” or “flavor of the month” exercise.
I also insist on having a very close relationship with my Director of Ethics. This allows me to be continually kept informed of the “Ethics pulse” within the organization.
The Director of Ethics accompanies me on my various visits to our subsidiaries throughout the world. In this way, everyone can see how close this subject is to my heart and how close I want it to be to our business.
Again, what I am sharing with you is simply the way we do things at L’ORÉAL. It is not a magic recipe.
We do it this way because it suits our company and its culture.
When it comes to Ethics, you need to be humble. Ethics is part of our continuing quest for excellence.
L’ORÉAL is honored to be recognized as a company that conducts its business ethically. I believe that companies that do business with integrity, that respect their employees and that demonstrate responsible corporate citizenship benefit from an undeniable strategic advantage.
This award is a wonderful recognition of the efforts of the company and its employees and a strong encouragement for the future.
In This Issue
- Do the Right Thing When Times are Tough
Column By Patricia J. Harned, Ph.D. President, ERC
- Judging the Judges: The Policy Report By Paula J. Desio, ERC Chair on Ethics Policy
- Book Review By Frank J. Navran
- PACE Leadership In Ethics Award Presented to L'Oreal CEO Jean-Paul Agon
on March 18, 2009
- Read press release
- Read acceptance speech