Alexandra Palt, Executive Director of the L’Oréal Foundation: “Because women are worth it! “

L’Oréal is a renowned cosmetics company that is known for its commitment to certain social issues. The Foundation has been working in support of women’s rights for twenty years. L’Oréal supports the “They Make Africa”program in partnership with Women In Africa (WIA), an initiative aimed at highlighting African women’s achievements.
Explanations with Alexandra Palt, General Manager of the L’Oréal Foundation.

Even before joining the L’Oréal group you showed that you were a woman who is committed and dedicated …

Indeed. Originally, I trained as a lawyer, specializing in human rights. As an activist on these issues, I have worked in many NGO’s including Amnesty International. These experiences led me to take an interest in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) issues. My expertise in CSR issues developed whilst working within associations, corporate networks and institutions. Then, from 2012, for L’Oréal, first as director in charge of sustainable development for the Group. And since 2017, I’ve been the General Manager the L’Oréal Foundation.

Photo Credit: Philippe Calandre

You support the WIA Initiative through the program “They Make Africa by WIA & L’Oreal”. Why do you support this program and how would you describe it?

The L’Oréal group seeks to make women who contribute in their own way to the success of their sector and their activity and who, in fact, have an impact on Africa’s future, visible. L’Oréal aims to make these women visible whether they are doctors, businesswomen, or simply women who are committed. We want to highlight these successful women as role models and contribute to the development of the African continent. Through their journey, they encourage other women, especially the youngest, to follow the path of excellence and to commit themselves. In doing so, they are spreading this energy at the heart of societies because the role of women everywhere in the world is indispensable, however this is particularly true in Africa. In concrete terms, this program, “They Make Africa by WIA & L’Oréal”, initiated for the first time at the 2nd annual World Summit of WIA initiative in Marrakech, will involve the intervention of a dozen women. We will promote and demonstrate women’s ability to perform exceptional things. The WIA initiative is about showcasing inspiring women.

Photo Credit: Micheline Pelletier

To what extent is the empowerment of African women still a crucial issue?

Women represent more than half of our societies. They must have a role equivalent to that of men to contribute to the construction of the future of the continent. Today, the question of utility no longer arises. Beyond the aspects of justice and gender equality, companies, institutions, society work better and are more productive when women are empowered. This is absolutely crucial in a continent such as Africa, where all resources are needed to meet the challenge of development

Photo Credit: Micheline Pelletier

To what extent can this program, “They Make Africa by WIA & L’Oreal”, contribute to the empowerment of African women?

In the grand scheme of things, this program is certainly a ‘drop in the ocean’. But the drops of water make big rivers. This program does not claim that it can revolutionize the world. The commitment of the L’Oréal Foundation for the last 20 years has been to invest, into combating inequality internally in the company, and also externally, by publicising the debate and making significant contributions in terms of gender quality and the enhancement of African women in the labour market.

Photo Credit: Micheline Pelletier

How is L’Oréal’s presence taking shape on the African continent for the support of women?

We have developed dedicated programs such as “For Women in Science”, conducted in partnership with UNESCO. Together with the UN, we recognize outstanding scientists and award research grants to young laureates in every region of Africa. In 2018, for the first time, the awards ceremony will be held in Nairobi, Kenya.

Photo Credit featured image: Philippe Calandre