Business Ethics: L’Oréal’s Emmanuel Lulin

Debbie Gee: TINZ Member with Delegated Authority for Whistleblowing, Affiliations, and OPG

Debbie Gee: TINZ Member with Delegated Authority for Whistleblowing, Affiliations, and OPG

Debbie Gee

TINZ Member with Delegated Authority for

Open Government, Whistleblowing, Partners and Affiliations

An interactive seminar with Emmanuel Lulin, Global Senior Vice President and Chief Ethics Officer at L’Oréal, provided participants with valuable insights into ‘How to make business ethics work for people, planet and profits’.

L’Oréal has been recognised by the Ethisphere Institute as one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” nine times including last year.  It did so whilst growing its business working towards its goal of doubling customer numbers from 1 billion to 2 billion by 2020. The work of Emmanuel – who is universally recognised as a creative force for ethics as a way of life – has been central to this achievement.

Key messages

The invitation-only seminar was hosted jointly by Transparency International New Zealand and Victoria University of Wellington’s Brian Picot Chair in Ethical Leadership. It provided guests with a rare opportunity to converse with Emmanuel in a relatively intimate setting, and ponder and debate some challenging moral dilemmas.

Emmanuel talked about L’Oréal’s four ethical principles of Integrity, Respect, Courage and Transparency and what these mean for people, planet and profits. He outlined why the company’s focus on ethics has made it one of the most attractive employers for new graduates, globally. He also shared his views on business ethics within a global company, and how positive business ethics leads to better workplaces, improves financial performance and drives sustainability.

Emmanuel said business ethics relate to discretionary decisions and behaviours, both individual and corporate, which go beyond mere legal compliance. As an example, he cited L’Oréal’s concerns about images of women in advertising. It decided to only use models over a certain body weight. He also noted that often the law lags behind ethical challenges.

He presentation provided valuable insights and guidance for staff and students, in areas such as human resources, risk management, marketing and legal, and how to make these work to a company’s advantage. A key point was that compared with finance and profit, integrity is under-represented and under-valued as an organisational asset when calculating bottom lines. He also stressed that everyone has a role and responsibility in maintaining organisational integrity by speaking up about ethical concerns. For example, he provided a list of “red flag” comments that often signal something unethical is about to happen. 

Emmanuel also shared the Seven Building Blocks of a Culture of Integrity, namely: Comfort with Speaking Up; Organisational Justice; Openness of Communication; Clarity of Expectation; Tone of the Top; Direct Manager Leadership; and Trust in Colleagues.

Highly regarded

Emmanuel joined L’Oréal in 1999 as Group General Counsel for Human Resources and in 2007, under the leadership of Jean-Paul Agon, he set up the Office of the Group Chief Ethics Officer. He holds many notable memberships and fellowships and in 2015 was awarded the prestigious 2015 Carol R. Marshall Award for Innovation in Corporate Ethics by the Ethics & Compliance Initiative.

Transparency International New Zealand, PO Box 10123, The Terrace Wellington, 6143 New Zealand Copyright © Transparency International New Zealand 2009 - 2019.
Website design and marketing from