It seems to it was more ‘because you’re white’ than ‘because you’re worth it’ when L’Oreal set about recruiting one its sales teams in France. A court has found that it deliberately discriminated against black, Arab and Asian women who applied to sell one of its shampoos. It wanted an all-white sales team and it got one, and so broke French law. (This upholds a ruling in 2007.)
Prosecutors maintained during the case that the reason for wanting white staff was that it was believed white French women would rather buy from white saleswoman. So the finger is really pointed at all white consumers. The story’s been picked up by thousands of news sites and blogs and is raising a number of broader issues. How would you answer the following questions:
Though illegal, would it accurate for a company to conclude that selling to white women is more easily done by white women? Or for that matter, is selling to black women more easily done by black women? I could carry on with the examples… Do we all prefer to buy from people who look like us?
Do multi-national fashion operators (publishers, designers, cosmetic manufacturers…) favour white people?
Is looking as white as you can still crucial if you’re black or Asian and want to be a model?
Is fashion racist? Is the skin colour of those involved, a crucial factor in the success of a model, magazine or product?
THIS IS THE STATEMENT THAT L’OREAL HAVE SENT US
L’Oréal acknowledges the decision rendered by the French Supreme Court and expresses its disappointment in the outcome of this case. L’Oréal continues to reject the accusations of discrimination made against its affiliate Garnier by SOS Racisme. The Group emphasises that respect of individuals is one of its fundamental values.
L’Oréal is convinced that difference and diversity are a source of richness and creativity for all, and does no tolerate any form of racism or discrimination of any kind.
On May 14th, L’Oréal SA received a Diversity Seal of Excellence from Eric Besson, the Minister for Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Unified Development in France. This distinction commends the Group’s commitment to equal opportunities, promotion of diversity, and prevention of discrimination