When asked why his company has taken a leadership role in bolstering diversity and inclusion in the luxury market, Jean-Christophe Babin, group CEO of Bvlgari, said the luxury brand “believes in everything that strengthens diversity and inclusion — and even more in the hard luxury market in which Bvlgari is a leader.”
Babin described the brand’s approach as a “way of being that has now embodied itself in the brand’s DNA and that is applied in different ways.” The CEO said Bvlgari is leading ethical and sustainable practices “from sourcing, to manufacturing and product development through the principles of a circular economy, while fostering a work environment based on equity, generosity and diversity to inspire the whole community.” Here, Babin shares insights into Bvlgari’s core principles within diversity, inclusion, and the initiatives that support the communities it serves.
WWD: From the perspective of corporate culture, how would you describe Bvlgari’s approach and its core principles in regard to diversity and inclusion? Can you share some of the goals and outcomes that are a part of this vision?
Jean-Christophe Babin: It is a very broad vision, from employees to customers through its supply-chain, Bvlgari cares for its whole community, encouraging a diversity of profiles and backgrounds, nurturing a culture of inclusion that respects the individuality of each employee or member of its community, all with a gender-balanced workforce and the gender equality deeply embedded in its ethos. Indeed, today 62 percent of Bvlgari’s Worldwide Managers are women. As the company has grown and expanded throughout the world, Bvlgari recognizes its talented and diverse workforce as a key competitive advantage leading to innovation and multi-faceted creativity, enriching variety of experiences, skills, knowledge and cross-cultural comprehension.
WWD: From the perspective of a luxury brand and it’s “public face,” how would you describe Bvlgari’s approach to diversity and inclusion?
J-C.B.: Bvlgari’s commitment is mainly to build an inclusive organization, in line with the principles of the LVMH Code of Conduct inspired by the United Nations Guidelines on Women’s Empowerment. Since 2013 the brand has signed the Principles for the Empowerment of Women to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women in the workplace, on the market and in the community. When it comes to global communication, I believe that partnering with the likes of Zendaya, Blesnya Minher, Vittoria Ceretti, Kris Wu or Lalalisa says long about what diversity means for Bvlgari.
WWD: Can you share some recent initiatives that support Bvlgari’s work in building stronger diversity and inclusion in the industry and in the communities it serves?
J-C.B.: As part of the LVMH commitment to promote diversity and inclusion, a growing focus is given to the impact of Unconscious Bias in our daily life. The Group and Bvlgari as well, is working on a worldwide training program that includes workshops and training initiatives that are currently being deployed to fight gender-based stereotypes.
We are also proudly expanding the engagement to support Women’s Empowerment as a key competitive advantage leading to innovation and multi-faceted creativity. Bvlgari has proven its ability to face the challenges of our times by applying the principles of gender equality to specific actions and projects. As part of the initiatives supported by the Bvlgari Virus Free Fund, the company has undertaken a collaboration with the Rockefeller University, one of the world’s leading biomedical research institutions and established the Bvlgari Women & Science Fellowship in Covid 19 research to support the brilliant and talented women scientists working on the virus research at the American University. The goal is to offer them the opportunity to continue their post-doctoral education and conduct innovative research while pursuing the global goal to achieve remission and cure of the Covid-19 virus. Moreover, Bvlgari proactively promotes initiatives launched by LVMH Group in this field such as the EllesVMH program as well as SHERO, an internal digital platform to boost gender parity and to provide women of the LVMH Group with the inspiring and practical content they need to advance within the organization. These kind of projects have long been part of Bvlgari’s DNA, which started the Aurora Award in Japan in 2016 and since 2019 in China, to celebrate and highlight talented and inspiring women. Bvlgari hopes to use this opportunity to inspire more women to harness their own energy and bring about remarkable achievements in their own fields.
WWD: How is Bvlgari leveraging its brand’s “voice” in helping to build stronger, more diverse communities?
J-C.B.: I believe that Bvlgari should be an example. We are recognized as an excellence in the world of luxury for the craftsmanship, creativity and the uniqueness of our creations, behind which there are amazing people and smart hands (Mani Intelligenti) that make every creation a piece of art. I strongly believe in creating a diverse and inclusive environment and this is possible increasing the diversity of our staff so that our work and the way we work every day can be an example for us and our customers.
WWD: How do you see the company and your brand evolving over time in regard to diversity and inclusion?
J-C.B.: In regards of these topics, I believe that the brand must be constantly evolving. The moment we have just experienced has certainly led us to slow down on many things, but others are moving forward quickly and it is important to keep up. The success of luxury brand is also in the way it can be a guide. Providing mentorship and training opportunities to ensure that future generations can leverage on these investments. It is increasingly important to have the utmost understanding for the client to empathize with and it is essential contextualize every action to the historical moment. The Millennials and the Z generations today represent the people to talk to and are very different from the previous ones, growing up in a world that rarely knows how to set boundaries. They rework what are the traditional stereotypes and drive the previous generations. The initiatives just described are for us only an important starting point to which add other pieces. Bvlgari is not only a great Brand but also a good Company.