When Patrick Kullenberg’s daughter was born, he only got nine days of leave.
“When you come home with a little baby, nine days is not very much,” Kullenberg, the chief executive officer of It Cosmetics and a 24-year L’Oréal veteran said. “I have a family, a husband, two kids,” Kullenberg said.
“I’ve had the experience of being in the closet at a company for four years before I felt comfortable to come out and be myself. And I went through the process of thinking about having a family, starting a family and seeing what that meant in a large corporation.”
Nine years ago, when Kullenberg’s daughter was born, what that meant was nine days of paternity leave.
But things have changed since then, in part due to the work of an internal think tank called Out at L’Oréal. When Kullenberg moved to the U.S. for the It Cosmetics job, he became the group’s executive sponsor. The goal, he said, is “to try to drive change and progress from the inside out.”
Quickly, the group, which started out with just 12 members, tackled the parental leave issue. Instead of two weeks, leave is now eight weeks, Kullenberg said. The group also worked to expand other benefits, like artificial insemination, which was previously only offered to people who were clinically infertile, and is now offered more broadly as part of L’Oréal’s infertility program.
Out at L’Oréal, which now has 172 members, has three main goals, Kullenberg said. The first is to make L’Oréal a great place to work for LGBTQ employees, with the ultimate goal of talent retention.
“We’re in the beauty industry in one of the beauty capitals of the world and we do want to have the best talent with us and we need them to feel like they’re at a company where they can develop,” Kullenberg said.
The second goal is outreach, which includes events, like the company’s Pride Party or lunch-and-learns, and charitable initiatives. The third goal is to offer education and resources to L’Oréal’s 35 brands.
“We’re selling products to people who love skin care and makeup and lipstick, so this think tank is also about creating a way of sharing inside information about consumers on the market to all of our different brands and highlighting the opportunities that the brands have,” Kullenberg said. In line with that goal, the group has created an LGBTQ index, and talks to brand presidents about what they’re doing in different areas, what opportunities remain and what could be improved.
It’s also important for the brands to understanding the spending power of the LGBTQ community, Kullenberg said. “It’s one of the biggest groups in the nation,” he said. In order to reach those consumers, L’Oréal partners with Nielsen to identify opportunities, partners with media companies and creates 360-degree marketing campaigns.
Out at L’Oréal has gradually been expanding to more markets, and is now set up in Canada, the U.K. and France, where the framework set up in the U.S. is being adapted to local markets.
“We hope it’s going to spread like wildfire,” Kullenberg said.
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