Challenging the preconception that L’Oréal is a predominantly female company is a constant effort. The notion is just that, a preconception. L’Oréal is proudly and uniquely diversified with talents of all genders, after all we work hard to ‘Share Beauty With All’, not just women. Being a ‘guy in cosmetics’ can of course present it’s challenges but working alongside inspiring women is a source of inspiration, particularly when management at L’Oréal Australia is majority female. This female inspiration is of course not limited to L’Oréal, family has a big part to play. With so many inspiring women surrounding him, this Women’s Month we decided to ask Phil Wells, HR Manager of L’Oréal Luxe about his sources of inspiration and how he is asserting the notion that the beauty industry is ‘’for females only’’.
What’s the most important lesson a woman has ever taught you?
“Never underestimate how special you can make another person feel.”
When growing up with my then-single dad, my brother and I were lucky enough to spend a great amount of time with our gran and pa (my dad’s parents). Margaret Wells, my gran now 96 years old, may not have used those words specifically but her abundant love and boundless kindness over my 38 years encouraged me to be everything that I can be and in turn seize every opportunity to authentically accept, nurture and embrace those people around you.
Thinking back to your earliest memory of a beauty product.
I grew up in traditionally male-dominated environments such as sporting clubs and high school groups. Even my early professional career was in management of hotels and bars — my exposure to and knowledge of beauty products was extremely limited. It wasn’t until I started dating my now-wife, Caytie that I began to develop a sensitivity to the beauty industry. Caytie had made a career transition from a qualified Make-up Artist into corporate professional services (now with French bank BNP Paribas). Even though an ongoing career in make-up artistry did not appeal to Caytie,
.., this investment in herself, her skills and expertise in Beauty products, and how they could make her feel, give her confidence, make her feel beautiful resonated powerfully with me.’’
Of course, she is now obsessed with Giorgio Armani cosmetics…
Are there any qualities of women you know, that you particularly admire?
When I reflect upon the qualities of my female leaders of the past 10 years, I have always most admired their incisive, intentional and responsible execution of their deep business and commercial understanding.
Their commitment to authenticity, integrity and the people around them constantly inspires me to be the best version of myself in all elements of my life.
Are there women at L’Oréal who inspire you?
Being inspired by women at L’Oréal is part of my daily life. I am fortunate enough to work very closely with 3 members of the L’Oréal Australia Management Committee. L’Oréal Australia’s Management Committee is majority female comprising seven females and four males. I proudly work in a team embedding strong female leaders as positive roles models for all employees, as well as the broader community. L’Oréal Australia is the first Australian company to be certified with the EDGE (Economic Dividends for Gender Equality) global standard for workplace gender equality. The EDGE assessment is the only business certification for gender equality in the workplace that is universally applicable across industries and countries.
Being inspired by L’Oréal women isn’t exclusive to Senior Leadership. I’m constantly inspired by discussions with interns passionate about realizing the ideal potential as the L’Oréal career launching pad or the Product Manager obsessed with make-up driving her vision to be the consumer marketing expert in cosmetics. I’m very lucky to be involved in L’Oréal stories of women developing the best version of themselves.
As a guy in cosmetics, how do you feel about working in a ‘female’ industry?
I agree that I can be seen as “a guy in cosmetics” and that the beauty industry can be viewed as a predominantly “female” industry. However, I feel very comfortable challenging those external, general preconceptions now that I have been with L’Oréal for almost two years.
I cannot speak on behalf of other players in the industry but L’Oréal is certainly not “female dominated.”
As a company, L’Oréal is proudly and uniquely diversified with talents of all genders, particularly in L’Oréal Luxe we routinely innovate in consumer satisfaction and centricity (not just for females). Some of my greatest professional relationships are with very successful male leaders within L’Oréal. With all of that, if I was still simply to be “a guy in cosmetics”, I would be a very “lucky” guy.
What is your favorite piece of art, created by a female?
This is a very hard question given so many gifted, natural and authentically creativite women in our world. Annie Leibovitz’s photography is constantly captivating bold intimacy (Ono/Lennon). A favorite film of mine is Sofia Coppola’s ‘Lost in Translation’ as a pure and simple example of admiration, vulnerability and disillusionment conveyed with brilliant complexity. This was her second feature film, won her an academy award for best picture and in my eyes really showed how much talent she has in the craft of filmmaking.
At L’Oréal you are guaranteed to encounter authentic and inspirational women who are a real source of inspiration. Intrigued? Check out our careers site for everything from jobs on offer to tips and tricks for nailing that application.