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"Young Davos": Future Leaders Provide the Catalyst for Change at L’Oréal

L’Oréal has been attending One Young World since 2012 and has already sent over 210 young employees to take part in the annual summit meeting. Delegates come back brimming with innovative ideas for projects, ranging from a Group refugee integration programme to solutions aimed at changing the position of young people in the workplace.


One Young World: creating the leaders of tomorrow
Set up in 2009 by two former Havas executives, One Young World has an inspiring effect on its participants. Aimed at people under the age of 30, the event is designed to raise awareness, provoke thought and inspire participants to tackle big issues, such as climate change, financial crises, artificial intelligence and refugee integration. L’Oréal is a fan, and has sent a delegation of 40 or so representatives every year since 2012. The goal is to encourage them to reflect on the challenges of tomorrow and imagine projects that can change the way the Group works. This has been welcomed by the One Young World organisers, who point out that large groups have the power to play a huge role in positive initiatives aimed at effecting change. Hosted by Bangkok and Ottawa in recent years, One Young World 2017 took place in Bogota, gathering 1,300 young people from 200 nations. Participants attended a vast array of workshops and heard speeches by such dignitaries as Mohammed Yunus and Kofi Annan. With everything in place to inspire and turn participants into young leaders of change, returning delegates head back from “Young Davos” with their heads full of exciting projects.

Helping refugees to integrate professionally 
L’Oréal puts on brainstorming sessions for returning One Young World delegates to enable them to explore these ideas. Participants talk about the causes touched them and sketch out their proposed projects. The idea is to create teams and come up with action plans. Five years after L’Oréal first took part in One Young World, 20 or so projects have been undertaken. One of the latest is Interngration, a program that provides highly-skilled young refugees with the opportunity to experience a six-month internship with the company. Interngration was the brainchild of One Young World 2016 alumni Olivier, Pauline, Tony and Benjamin, all of whom were deeply affected by the testimonials they heard at the summit. When they got back, they wanted to do something to help refugees integrate in the professional world of their host country. The idea was pitched to L’Oréal Chairman and CEO Jean-Paul Agon, and the program got underway in July 2017. The team is partnered with Wintegrate, a social start-up that identifies high-potential refugees and matches them with L’Oréal’s internship program. A first round of five refugees from Syria and Sudan received places in the Group’s IT, communication, finance and chemicals departments. Delighted by their initial success, the four young project leaders hope to double their intake for the next round of the program.

Rethinking youth’s position in the workplace
One Young World challenges young people to consider how to build tomorrow’s world. But it also asks questions about their position in daily life. HR Manager Guillaume Pitoiset took this question back to L’Oréal’s Professional Products Division when he returned from the summit in 2015. He set up Youth2Growth, a group for young people with fewer than five years of experience. What are the rules? There is no management structure, and people are free to speak their minds. The idea is to involve these young people in high value added assignments where they can express their views freely and make a real contribution. The goal is to make sure that their voices are heard and to instil the notion that sometimes young people have fresher ideas than seasoned managers. The Groups is testing out other projects proposed by its future leaders. You can bet the sixth delegation, just back from Bogota, will follow the lead of its predecessors in providing incredible impetus for change.

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