Whether it be at the helm of fashion’s most established brands or on the boards of the industry’s most esteemed houses, women are sorely out-numbered by men. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has vowed to take steps to close the gap. Just over ten years after the Paris-based conglomerate, which owns Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Celine, Christian Dior, and Loewe, among other fashion and non-fashion brands, launched EllesVMH, a gender diversity-centric initiative, it has announced that it will join the French task force on gender equality.
The French task force, which was announced by French President Emmanuel Macron in January, coincides with the World Economic Forum’s encouragement over the past five years that “countries voluntarily form public/private partnerships to define three-year plans with concrete objectives, serving as a platform to share and promote best practices in gender equality, spanning compensation, support for entrepreneurs and career development.”
In addition to France being the first European country to join this initiative, which was launched by the World Economic Forum, LVMH – which signed on to the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles in 2013 – is the first French luxury group to announce its alliance with the task force.
The number of women within the upper-most ranks of the fashion industry has been a topic of discussion in recent months, in particular, and LVMH has, in recent years, made several significant advancements, including the appointment of Maria Grazia Chiuri as the creative director of Christian Dior, the first female to ever hold the role in the 71-year history of the couture house.
In a relatively recent appointment, Givenchy’s Clare Waight Keller joins a number of other females at the heads of houses, including Carol Lim, who alongside Humberto Leon, serves as the creative director of Kenzo. Silvia Venturini Fendi holds the role of creative director of accessories and menswear at LVMH-owned Fendi, and until recently, Phoebe Philo was at the helm of Celine.
On the business side, four women serve as CEOs of LVMH fashion brands: Séverine Merle is the CEO of Celine; Sylvie Colin fills the role at Kenzo; Pascale Lepoivre is the chief executive at Loewe; and Sophie Brocart is the CEO of Nicolas Kirkwood. It is worth noting that Laudomia Pucci – a Pucci family member – is the chairwoman of Emilio Pucci, and at Louis Vuitton, Delphine Arnault – daughter of LVMH chairman, Bernard Arnault – serves as Director and Executive Vice President.
“LVMH views gender equality as both natural and essential, a social objective and at the same time an asset that enhances competitiveness. We owe it to our 145,000 employees — of whom 73 percent are women — to make a strong commitment to driving progress,” Antoine Arnault, an LVMH board member and the chief executive officer of Berluti, said on Thursday.
Chantal Gaemperle – the one woman on LVMH’s 10-member Executive Committee and the group’s Executive Vice-President of Human Resources & Synergies, who spearheaded the EllesVMH initiative – stated: “LVMH’s decision to join the Task Force on gender equality at businesses reflects the Group’s longstanding commitment, a commitment that is stronger than ever today.”