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- 2 Aug 2010

Proactive means progress at LVMH



Chantal Gaemperlé, Group EVP of Human Resources and Synergies, describes the LVMH action plan for improving gender diversity.


In our research for this report, we have often encountered the view that “women’s issues in HR are not really an issue any more” or that “there is no glass ceiling for women in luxury”. What would you say to this?

I believe that this should be phrased differently. It’s not about “women’s issues”; it’s about diversity and inclusiveness for performance and competitiveness. It’s also about access to talent. While the glass ceiling is perhaps less noticeable in large luxury companies than in more traditional business sectors, we are still facing the same historic issues as other major corporations. Statistics show that the glass ceiling still exists.

That being said, LVMH prides itself on having a high proportion of women managers, which stands at nearly 60%. And whereas most companies have around 20% women on their executive committees, at many of our companies women make up 28% of the executive committees. We also have women CEOs at the head of many of our brands, including quite a few of the most prestigious ones like Krug, Fred, Loewe, new fragrance brands and others.

Besides addressing the issue of gender parity and enhancing diversity, why is it a good business decision to help women rise in the luxury corporate structure? *

By definition, women are the key to the success of our industry, representing 85% of our customer base. Because this is a markedly female environment, diversity is a crucial element of our DNA and it also corresponds to our culture of creativity and customer focus. Consequently, we’re making sure that the corporate structure is able to turn the immense variety of employee profiles we enjoy at LVMH into a real competitive advantage.

Being able to widen the pool of potential resources to all men and women is a de facto competitive advantage, which allows us to enjoy solid growth with many business opportunities where talents are scarce. It’s about attracting and retaining the best people — and very often they are women.

In order to achieve a successful strategy for the advancement of women in luxury, what more needs to be done than just “getting the numbers right” in terms of equal representation in the board and management? How would you ultimately define success?

Statistics help in that they contribute to a factual statement which raises awareness. On this basis, the numbers provide a concrete measure of evolution — and hopefully progress. But actually, the real goal has to be getting the best talents on board so this makes it unnecessary for us to really pay attention to gender. A sign of success for all our efforts is for the issue to disappear, which it needs to.

Last year, we heard about the “EllesVMH” photo exhibition you launched to celebrate International Women’s Day. Was this part of a wider, comprehensive women’s HR initiative at LVMH or do individual brands have their own programmes? *

This celebration was about the formidable diversity behind our metiers and savoir-faire which is reflected in the talented women in our group. Indeed, it was a testimony to their value and part of a wider initiative. We began the previous year with efforts to identify best practices in the field of gender parity, including conversations with a number of successful female talents who shared their respective experiences during internal sessions. So last year’s EllesVMH photo exhibition was about generating awareness among a wider audience.


The “EllesVMH” exhibition held in March 2009 at the LVMH headquarters on Avenue Montaigne in Paris documenting about 100 women employees who posed for portraits taken by the photographer Christophe Beauregard.


This year, we organised a conference on parity at the group level with key external speakers to report on the progress being made in gender parity at a broader scale in Western society and beyond. Our different companies also pursue numerous initiatives of their own, which take on many forms, in line with the specific DNA of each brand. At Moët Hennessy Diageo, Hennessy and Le Bon Marché, for example, there are internal charters on gender parity which are formalised in agreements with unions. Moët et Chandon has an internal taskforce on parity and there are day nurseries at Sephora. And the Veuve Clicquot Business Women awards are also widely recognised.