Ethics put into practice

How far to go in the exchange of courtesy gifts, a tradition between business partners? How to resist the practice of baksheesh, which seems essential in some countries? What limits should be imposed on the use of artificial intelligence? Answering these questions is the daily task of Jean-Christophe Sautory, current CEO of “ethics, risks and compliance” of the L’Oréal group. The global cosmetics giant is one of the first international groups to have a responsible for ethical issues in 2007 in the person of Emmanuel Lulin, who retired in January 2021. The practice has since grown. . “Having an ethics department is a strong trend in global groups, recalls Jean-Christophe Sautory. It is about going beyond just compliance with the law and regulations, which do not always cover all the issues or which may be lagging behind in the development of the business. “

L’Oréal’s Mr. Ethics relies on a network of 80 correspondents, wherever the group is established. The exchange is permanent. For example, a communications director wonders about his partnership with an influencer. Another wondered if it is possible to continue working with a supplier who has just bought a company that has had a problem with business integrity in the past. We defined together under what conditions it was possible to continue with this partner ”, explains Jean-Christophe Sautory. Its compass is the company’s ethical charter, which highlights four main principles: integrity, respect for partners, courage and transparency. Responses are rarely automatic. “We are often in a gray area, our matter is always in motion”, argues the former engineer.

Other rules are very clear and need to be regularly reminded: whatever the country, the group practices, for example, “zero tolerance” on the corruption of civil servants, at the risk of losing a contract or having long delays imposed. for a marketing authorization.

Every year, in October, for Ethics Day, all of the group’s employees can ask their question online, anonymously, directly to the CEO of L’Oréal. Last year, 55,000 employees – out of the 85,400 in the group – took part in the exercise and nearly 9,000 questions were asked.

“We have also set up an ethics alert line, adds Jean-Christophe Sautory. If an employee, supplier, customer or NGO considers that they have witnessed an act contrary to our commitments, they can report it on a dedicated secure website (Speak up L’Oréal), to one of our correspondents. ethical or to me directly. “ Five hundred reports are collected each year on average and more than half of them give rise to an internal investigation, the follow-up of which is devolved to Jean-Claude Sautory. A report is communicated each year to the group’s employees.

The use of artificial intelligence is one of the major projects to come. The algorithms fit into recruitment policies for CV preselections or beauty product recommendations. “We must define for ourselves the rules for the proper use of these tools”, explains Jean-Claude Sautory, who has just created a working group on this issue.


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