L'Oreal feels the heat for involvement in Russia's 'IT Princess'

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

L'Oreal feels the heat for involvement in Russia's 'IT Princess'
L'Oreal Paris is feeling the heat as one of the sponsors of 'IT Princess', a Russian beauty competition claiming to attract more women into science, tech and engineering.

The campaign, run by Russian internet giant, Mail.ru has received backlash from women on social media accusing it of ‘judging by appearance’ despite claiming to empower women in what has previously been a male dominated environment.

It asks women in tech, or those who aspire to work in the area, to submit photos of themselves along with a personal statement for the platform’s users to vote for their ‘favourite girl’  before a panel of judges including L'Oreal's director general in Russia, interview and select a winner.

When asked by ‘Marketingmagazine.co.uk​’ for comment on its involvement, a L’Oreal UK spokesperson stated; “I can confirm that L’Oréal Paris in Russia is a partner. This is not an approach we follow in the UK. L’Oréal supports STEM careers through programmes like UNESCO ‘Fellowships For Women In Science’ and the L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre at the Royal Institution."

L’Oreal and Russia’s gender equality

The global cosmetics player’s involvement in this somewhat off-putting competition comes as a surprise to those who know the brand’s been working with Russia to secure gender equality in the workplace.

Through its ‘Beauty For All’ commitment, L’Oréal Russia became the first company in the country to be certified with the Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) global standard for workplace gender equality in 2015. 

The certification recognizes businesses with exceptional gender practices. It is the only universal business certification that addresses gender; and L’Oréal’s accreditation in Russia follows the example set by its US subsidiary, who obtained the certification last year.

As a result, the company subsidiary created a customized roadmap towards continued progress in gender equality, which includes a broader adoption of flexible work arrangements and continued leadership development training and mentoring across both genders.

“By becoming EDGE Certified, L’Oréal Russia is adopting a holistic approach to workforce gender equality and is actively working towards building a gender-balanced talent pool at all levels of responsibility in the organization and an inclusive culture,”​ Aniela Unguresan, co-founder of EDGE Certified Foundation said at the time.

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