L’Oreal defends its stance on slavery after criticism

Thomson Reuters Foundation, BOGOTA

Sat, Oct 07, 2017 - Page 10

French cosmetics giant L’Oreal SA on Thursday said it has “zero tolerance” for forced labor in its supply chain and keeps a close eye on its mineral mica sources after a report criticized the company for failing to disclose slavery risks in its operations.

The report by CORE, a watchdog on corporate accountability, said some of the world’s top brands, including L’Oreal, do not report the risks of slavery associated with mica, a sparkly mineral used in makeup.

Reporting such risks is required by Britain’s 2015 Modern Slavery Act, under which major businesses must produce an annual statement outlining actions they have taken to combat slavery in their supply chains.

About 24.9 million people are victims of forced labor globally and nearly one in 10 children around is a victim of child labor, the International Labour Organization said.

In recent years, companies from clothes retailers to the food industry have come under increasing regulatory, public and consumer pressure to ensure their supply chains are free of child labor and slavery.

L’Oreal said its commitment to sourcing sustainable mica in India is reported on its Web site and that its statement under the Modern Slavery Act should be read in conjunction with its public reporting.

“At L’Oreal we take this topic very seriously and have a zero tolerance policy with regards to any type of forced labor including modern slavery,” the company said.

L’Oreal owns brands such as Garnier and Maybelline.

Speaking on the sidelines of the One Young World summit in Bogota, which brings together global youth leaders and social entrepreneurs, a top L’Oreal executive said the company is well aware of the risks of child labor in India’s mica mines.

“We know perfectly the issue about mica. We have been working about this issue for a number of years. We have been cooperating and engaging with local non-governmental organizations to work on this issue of mica,” L’Oreal senior vice-president Emmanuel Lulin said.