By Josephine Tennant
Alumni of the College and senior manager for sustainable sourcing at L’Oréal Americas Operations Kristin Couch Fitzsimons (’10) spoke to students on Oct. 23 in the Business Building Lounge.
At the event, which the School of Business and Alpha Kappa Psi co-sponsored, Fitzsimons shared how her unfailing determination and passion to give back to the community enabled her to pursue her dream job at L’Oréal.
“I spent a lot of my (time in) high school volunteering all throughout inner cities in New Jersey and up and down the east coast,” Fitzsimons said. “I really wanted to go into a career that allowed me the opportunity to give back and work in these types of urban environments.”
L’Oréal, a French-based cosmetics company, prides itself on the many social responsibility programs that promote environmental sustainability, gender equality and diversity inclusion within the workplace, according to its website.
After few months of working at a local creative marketing firm as an event planner for non-profit organizations, Fitzsimons knew she wanted to do more.
“Maybe this wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned,” Fitzsimons said. “I really wanted to make sure I’m moving forward in this career I wanted to lay out for myself.”
After catching up with a fellow sorority sister who had just started working at L’Oréal, Fitzsimons recognized an opportunity to work at the company and decided to apply for a job.
“One of my sisters had said that she had just started a job at L’Oréal, and L’Oréal does a lot of things I was interested in,” Fitzsimons said. “They have a program around corporate social responsibility, and they had just lifted their hiring freeze … she referenced me and it was great.”
As she began to rise through the ranks at the cosmetics company, Fitzsimons secured a position leading the Sustainable Sourcing program for the Americas team.
According to Fitzsimons, the Sustainable Sourcing program relies on three pillars — protect, empower and impact positively. Sustainable Sourcing seeks to hold the entire company — including associated buyers and supply chains — accountable for how they treat their employees, how they strive to empower the environment and how they impact minorities through diversity and inclusion.
According to Fitzsimons, an important aspect of enforcing the first pillar is “to make sure that they have their wages, that they are not overworking their employees and that they have standards in place for calculating the number of hours.”
The U.N. has also globally recognized L’Oréal as one of the highest-engaged participants of the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, thanks to the programs under the umbrella of the “empower” pillar, which have proven effective in reducing company-wide carbon emissions.
Through the program Solidarity Sourcing, which falls within the “impact positivity” pillar, L’Oréal focuses on the support and hiring of many minorities that are typically disadvantaged in the workforce, such as women, people with disabilities and people coming from different cultural backgrounds.
“(The) ‘impact positively’ pillar is focused on really going above and beyond and finding ways to bring additional value not only to L’Oréal as a company, but to our suppliers,” Fitzsimons said. “We work with suppliers all over the world, so we are identifying what those communities or what those types of individuals looks like depending on where the supplier is located.”
She advised the students to network and persistently pursue their passions.
“Talk about it until every single person knows that you want to be doing this,” Fitzsimons said. “I think that’s the only reason I got this position … because every single person in sourcing knew that I wanted to be doing this full time.”
Fitzsimons’ closing statement left the audience stealing glances at one another around the room.
“My biggest advice ever is to make sure you network and you do it in a professional way, but that you also do it amongst yourselves,” she said. “You never know tomorrow where the person sitting next to you is gonna be in their career.”