L'Oréal makes peace with the black model it fired, after social media backlash
L’Oréal Paris has come to terms with black transgender model Munroe Bergdorf nearly three years after the brand fired her over a Facebook post it said was “at odds with our values.” L’Oréal faced social-media backlash last week from Bergdorf and many others saying the brand was being hypocritical after supporting Black Lives Matter on social media.
In September 2017, L’Oréal faulted Bergdorf for a Facebook post, subsequently taken down, that cast a broad brush of responsibility against white people for white supremacy in the wake of the Charlottesville confrontation. “Most of ya’ll don’t even realise or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour,” the post said. “Your entire existence is drenched in racism.”
In a statement today, L’Oréal Paris Brand President Delphine Viguier said that she’d had “an honest, transparent and vulnerable conversation” with Bergdorf. “While both agree today that negative labels should not be used to define all individuals in any group, I understand much better the pain and trauma that were behind Munroe’s words back then and the urgency she felt to speak in defense of the Black community against systematic racism,” Viguier said. “I regret the lack of dialogue and support the company showed Munroe around the time of the termination.”
Viguier said L’Oréal is forming a UK Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board of “voices inside and outside the company” that will include Bergdorf. L’Oréal Paris also will donate more than $50,000 to Mermaids, supporting gender-variant and transgender youth in the U.K., and UK Black Pride.
“As an activist, part of my work is to encourage big businesses to understand their responsibility in regards to diversity and inclusion,” Bergdorf said on Twitter.
L’Oréal USA, the brand’s U.S. parent, still has an outstanding legal issue on the diversity-and-inclusion front. A lawsuit filed in late 2018 by former VP-Digital Marketing Amanda Johnson, who is black, accused the company of race, sex and disability discrimination. L’Oreal vigorously denied Johnson’s allegations, and the lawsuit remains pending, heading to discovery.