Delphine Viguier-Hovasse, global director of L’Oreal Paris, picked a seemingly inopportune time to launch a campaign battling street harassment of women—March 2020, just before the pandemic would start keeping people off the streets, anyway.
Regardless, the issue is so big that Stand Up Against Street Harassment has already signing up 245,000 people for training via U.S. based partner Hollaback on how to respond to street harassment. Viguier-Hovasse knew it was badly needed when L’Oreal research showed street harassment was the top concern for women globally.
Viguier-Hovasse, the first woman to lead L’Oreal’s namesake mass brand globally, clearly knows her market, which is also evident from business results. Despite the pandemic’s negative effect on beauty sales, L’Oreal Paris has gained share in the U.S. in recent quarters, particularly on Amazon and elsewhere online, per Evercore ISI.
Viguier-Hovasse says the brand’s aspirational yet accessible positioning, demonstrated by the successful launch of dermatologist-inspired Revitalift Laser Ampoules, has been the key driver.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I don't know if it's to my younger self—but to young women today. I would love to remind her that her self worth is not about the number of followers she has, or the number of likes she gets or her body’s shape. I would tell her that everything is in education, learning, getting into school, practicing foreign languages and learning things to make sure that she has the free spirit to decide what she wants to do.
What's the biggest risk you've ever taken?
Saying yes to my husband three weeks after I met him. That's definitely worked out. I do not regret it. I'm not really a risk-taker in terms of business. You know why? Because I think that I have the responsibility for many people working for the brand across the globe. They are not property of L'Oreal Paris. I am renting the brand for years. I'm very respectful on what I'm doing under brand.
If you weren’t doing your current job, what would you be doing?
A doctor. I would go toward something more scientific. We are doing great things on L’Oreal Paris with Stand Up, etc. I would love to come back on something which is more essential. And I think the health and all the health-related issues, of course, have been accelerated by the pandemic. But still before the pandemic the big regret of my life is not to be a doctor.
What should the industry do to encourage more women and people of color in its ranks?
It's long-term work. We are training everyone in every level of the company to make sure that when you hire someone, you recruit someone in your team, you really choose between all the possibilities.
Which campaign or other piece of work have you seen in the last year that you wish you'd done?
It's very much related to Stand Up. It has been a great campaign in France and I think in Europe recently. It's a picture where a girl is dressed very sexy. And it's written on the billboard [I will translate] “It's not a yes.” This campaign is very simple. And at the same time really proving that it's not because of you that you are [harassed] in the street. It was a bit provocative because the girls are super sexy on the billboard. But I love the “It’s not a yes."