L'Oréal Chairman Jean-Paul Agon's Remarks at ADL's 2021 Never Is Now Summit on Antisemitism and Hate

Remarks by L'Oréal Chairman Jean-Paul Agon, Recipient of ADL's Courage Against Hate Award
  • November 8, 2021

Dear Jonathan, thank you for your very generous words. They go straight to my heart.

Today, I feel profoundly humbled and overwhelmed with emotions.

This award bestowed on me is an immense honor. The fight against antisemitism and all forms of hatred is one of the toughest - if not the toughest - universal challenge of the 21st century. We absolutely need organizations like the Anti-Defamation League to be at the forefront of this cause. I have the utmost admiration for your outstanding work. And for you, dear Jonathan. For your courage and determination. Standing by ADL’s side for the last 3 decades in your mission to secure justice and fair treatment for all has been a privilege.

I also feel proud. Not of myself, but of all the members of the L’Oréal family. If there is one thing I have learned during my career, it is that respect and inclusion cannot be decreed from an executive office. I have been blessed to be surrounded by my 85,000 colleagues who share my belief that companies have a responsibility to be a force for good. If we have shown Courage Against Hate, it is thanks to the commitment of each one of them. This is their award.

I also feel an immense sense of responsibility. Who could have imagined the unprecedented rise of hatred and antisemitism we are suffering today? The past years have reminded us how easily they can insidiously creep back into every corner of our societies, like poison.

I solemnly make this pledge to you: to continue doing my utmost to help say “Never Again”.

Sixteen years ago, my predecessor Sir Lindsay Owen Jones was honored by ADL with the International Leadership Award. Elie Wiesel was the keynote speaker of the ceremony. He reminded us of the need for people, not only to speak up, but to demonstrate in deeds how to make our world more humane.

While I listened, I asked myself what I could do. As a leader of a global company, I had to act. Not just to do better but to do what was needed. I have used whatever power and influence I might have, to fight strongly for what I believe in ever since.

At L’Oréal we fight to embrace diversity, promote equality, and encourage acceptance.

One of the first decisions I made as CEO was to name a Chief Ethics Officer and a Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, both directly reporting to me. Not just as a symbol, but as a clear and firm message that fighting against any form of rejection was a top priority.

For 12 years running, we have been named one of the world’s most ethical companies by the Ethisphere Institute. Our commitment is governed in particular by our global Human Rights Policy, reflected in how we do business. From respecting human and labor rights, to fighting against discrimination at work, from universal social standards to inclusive training and hiring of people at risk. We are embracing a leadership role in this global fight enlisting our entire ecosystem, alongside the United Nations and other key stakeholders, to make a difference in people’s lives.

We commit to pushing back ignorance and abhorrence through education.

It is our collective duty to future generations to consider how we will teach the Holocaust tomorrow. It is our responsibility to be faithful to the memory of its victims by fighting against its oblivion, or worse, its trivialization or even negation.

We are honored to be supporting ADL’s Holocaust Education Program for students. We strongly believe, promoting understanding and empathy, regarding what has been the greatest manifestation of hatred in history, will contribute to turning back the rising tide of antisemitism.

Finally, it is about standing up together for the world we want for our children.

We owe it to continue our never-ending efforts on this path to a fairer world.

In the face of those who disseminate hate, we shall raise a more powerful voice to make tolerance and fraternity prevail.

In the face of antisemitism, injustice, and discrimination we need organizations like yours, and people like you to fight the prejudice wherever it rears its ugly head.

I promise you that now more than ever we will do our best to continue to live up to the wonderful spirit of this Courage Against Hate Award.

You will always have an ally in your friends at L’Oréal. We will stand by your side to make the world a better and more beautiful place.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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