Meet Mary-Lou, Giving L’Oréal Employees Resources To Help Non Profits.

Interview with Mary-Lou, Employees Citizen Engagement Manager at L’Oréal

Every year, more than 60 countries and 30 000 employees at L’Oréal volunteer one day to help non-profits. But who is behind this huge impact? It starts with Mary-Lou! We sat down with her to understand everything about her job!

Hello Mary-Lou, can you tell us more about what Citizen Day is exactly?

Citizen Day was born 10 years ago (in 2009) to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of L’Oréal. The idea was for our employees to identify 100 actions of solidarity. Mr. Agon, who was CEO of L’Oréal U.S.A back in 2009, had already created the Volunteer Day. The idea was to extend this initiative by giving L’Oréal employees the opportunity to devote one full day to a non-profit organization on a specific mission, to help them achieve a concrete goal or need. This is how this local initiative became global and how it has continued every year since.

What is your first memory of Citizen Day?

I remember my first day of course and how it all happened so suddenly! Someone had just left the team and L’Oréal needed to replace that person as quickly as possible: I heard about Citizen Day for the very first time on a Thursday and started the following Monday, in January 2016. I was in charge of organizing and coordinating the event. What a challenge! But a very exciting one which I have enjoyed ever since!

L’Oréal is a global company, does this make it more difficult to plan?

It was very challenging because we had to reproduce the format in every country, and each country has its own specificities! In the United Arab Emirates or Asia, for instance, volunteering exists but takes a different form than France or the USA. The other challenge we faced was the high degree of enthusiasm and dedication of employees. In a country such as France, we had a very large number of requests and it was hard to find enough non-profits! In addition, when you’re new to the team, the organizations you work with don’t necessarily know you very well. You need to make your way and build a relationship of mutual trust.

What is the most important thing when organizing such an event?

First of all, cooperation is key. We are talking about more than 60 countries and 30 000 employees volunteering. The success of the project is only made possible by the teams working on Citizen Day in each country. In addition, being able to have a tangible impact is a priority and the most important criteria when identifying non-profits. On one hand, we want to offer our employees a genuine and memorable collaborative experience and on the other, we need to respond to the non-profits’ need for concrete results.

Photos from employees during Citizen day 2019

What does your day-to-day look like?

My work requires a lot of coordination and contact with many parties: non-profits, countries, and employees. Every country or campus has to mobilize employees. To do this effectively, I provide them with communication assets, event organization guidelines, and reporting tools. My role is really about global coordination, like an orchestra conductor. It requires a lot of energy!

What do you love most about your job?

The best part of my job is to be able to make time available for people. Many employees would love to be more involved in helping non-profits but can’t because of their work, their personal life, etc. In addition, sometimes the reason why people don’t commit to volunteering on their own is because they do not know where to start, how to contact a non-profit, which one etc. Citizen Day is an opportunity to discover local non-profits and give life to personal projects that had been set aside.

What do you like the most about working at L’Oréal specifically?

I have always felt the need to help others and have a positive social impact through my job. I have worked in the luxury industry before, but also for NGOs and nonprofits: the job offered by L’Oréal was a perfect combination! What I also like a lot: there is a lot of room for initiative and entrepreneurship here. I have been able to innovate and suggest new formats to engage more employees with non-profits.

What is your biggest wish for, and your best memory of Citizen Day?

Unfortunately, I have never really been able to participle in the actual Citizen Day! On the D-day, I have always been more behind the scenes, ensuring that everything goes well. I would love to be able to participate as a volunteer one day!

Regarding my favourite memory, I think it is that moment when everyone gets together at the end of the day to celebrate with the team, with all the organizers and partners.

Do you want to see what Citizen Day looks like in other parts of the World? Don’t miss Part 2 of our Citizen Day Series… Next stop, Peru!

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