L’Oréal is a Global Compact LEAD, one of the most highly engaged participants of the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to the United Nations Global Compact and its Ten Principles for responsible business.
‘’Bringing about change requires both the long-term commitment of top management but also the daily engagement of each employee. It is only together that we can further our efforts as an ethical corporate citizen.” Jean Paul Agon, CEO
One key contributor to driving sustainability at L’Oréal UK & Ireland is Operations Director Nathalie Bleach, whose passion for the environment and safe-guarding our planet for future generations is infectious.
Tell us something about yourself we wouldn’t get from your LinkedIn profile? I am a keen half marathon runner, have 2 daughters and also do some baking for my family at weekends.
What attracted you to Supply Chain & Operations at L’Oréal?
I have been with the group for the past 20 years having worked in France, Belgium, Amsterdam and the UK, and what I love most about the function is the variety of the role; the proximity to the business and to consumers; as well the broad spectrum of jobs you can do within Operations at L’Oréal.
Where does your passion lie?
I feel very strongly about sustainability and as a mother, I want to make sure I do what I can to leave a better planet for the next generation. I am an active sponsor of our “Sharing Beauty With All’’ program in L’Oréal UKI where we have implemented a number of impactful measure to reduce our footprint (we have reduced waste and water by almost 60% in 2018 vs 2005). I am also really proud that our four main sites in UKI have been carbon neutral since last year.
On top of our global commitment, we always look for local initiatives and ways to make improvements. For example, last year we removed all single -use coffee cups, plastic cups and cutlery across all of our sites which is fantastic as every little helps!
How do you support & influence the leaders of the future?
Mentoring is very important to me. I feel it is my duty to give this opportunity to my teams by facilitating internal programs (on mentoring, sharing best practices, working on key priorities across divisions and functions) as well as external programs such as the IGD mentoring scheme where 80 people in my team have taken part over the last four years. I also feel privileged to be part of the Princes Trust partnership we have together with L’Oréal Paris and was honoured to open a new room in Salford Centre dedicated to younger people; giving a bit of time back to help people turning self-doubt into self-worth is a no-brainer. Giving back is a very small thing, everybody should do so and more often.
You’ve had a global career at L’Oréal— how does L’Oréal UKI compare?
L’Oréal UKI is at the forefront in many areas and paving the way for the group. The entrepreneurial and innovative mind-set is very strong: we try new things all the time, we’re not afraid of change and actually drive it. L’Oréal UKI is also very modern in our business approach, working very collaboratively internally as well as with our customers.
How does L’Oréal support Women in Leadership?
In L’Oréal UKI, we have a very active group of people passionate about the topic. Together they created the Gender Equality Network. I am a proud sponsor and try to participate as much as possible: they organise talks, events & also introduced the idea of “Lean In” circles where employees can exchange/support one another on specific topics. I feel really proud to work for a company where gender equality is not only discussed but one of our core objectives at L’Oréal UKI Executive level.
What challenges do you face in your role & how do you overcome these?
The challenges are very diverse which makes my job very interesting and stressful sometimes. Brexit has been an extra challenge lately for instance… but like every hurdle I try to keep a cool head, always look at the glass half-full rather than half empty and see what opportunities it can bring. A deep breath can also help sometimes as well as pursuing my running habits :)
You’re a lead on Women4Climate mentoring scheme — how did you get involved, what does this role incorporate?
I am actively involved in our UKI “Sharing Beauty With All” committee in UKI and passionate about the topic as mentioned before. When the opportunity with Women 4 Climate was presented to me, I thought it would be very interesting to see how I can help a young inspiring entrepreneur who is active in this area.
I had the opportunity to meet Lina a few times and was really inspired by what she has managed to do: launching and managing on her own a new organic soy milk powder called Edenera. Our discussions have been very broad — talking about sustainability challenges, how to grow your brand, how to keep time for yourself and even sharing baking recipes.
What changes are we seeing in the Supply Chain & Operations landscape, how is L’Oréal leading on this?
Many shifts that are occurring in our world today are impacting our supply chain: including digital, consumer, channel and data shifts. We are clearly already working on all these things : empowering the team to innovate/ re-look constantly at how we can do things better and in a more agile way; being able to serve all our channels in a safe and efficient way from end consumers to a retailer to a hairdressing salon. We are also looking at how can go beyond this: we have great safety results in our warehouses for instance and how can we bring this to life in the hairdressing salons; how do we engage more with our customers and even consumers on the great environmental results we have here in UKI …
Any advice to aspiring leaders out there?
I think it is important to stay true to yourself; know what you are passionate about and what gives you energy, as this will help you when you want to shape your vision, co-create it with your teams… This should also inspire others to achieve the best they can and be leaders themselves!
Also important for aspiring leaders to know that most probably there will be ups-and-downs along the way and that is OK. You might face self-confidence issues, you might fail… but as long as you learn and grow then you’re in a good place and on the good path.
I also love this extract from David Whyte’s book “Consolations” : Beginning well or beginning poorly, what is important is simply to begin…
Inspired by Nathalie and her passion for sustainability? Interested in the measures we are taking at L’Oréal to reduce our impact on the planet then check out our FULL SUSTAINABILITY REPORT. Why not check out our careers site for opportunities at L’Oréal UK & Ireland and beyond — we have amazing opportunities across 83 countries