Christian Dior is heading Stateside as part of its mission to empower women.
Following last week’s International Women’s Day, the French fashion house will descend on New York today to launch its third annual international mentoring program, Women @ Dior, at the Public Hotel in lower Manhattan.
During the event, this year’s American mentors and mentees will get the chance to mingle with the likes of France’s secretary of state for equality Marlène Schiappa and U.N. Women deputy executive director Åsa Regnér, who will both be in attendance.
Also supporting the initiative, but from afar, is Maria Grazia Chiuri, creative director of women’s wear at Dior, who in her first collection for the label sent out T-shirts emblazoned with the message “We Should All Be Feminists” and most recently designed the “Sisterhood Is Powerful” tops.
Launched in 2017, the Women @ Dior initiative entails a group of people who work at the fashion giant mentoring female students aged between 20 and 25, as part of a yearlong program designed to empower women.
This year’s group of mentors and mentees will number 400, up from 300 last year, and are based across 10 cities — Paris, London, Dubai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai, Marseille, New York, Sydney and Milan.
For two years, the launch event has been held in Dior’s home city of Paris, but the venue has been switched this year to coincide with the United Nations’ annual Commission on the Status of Women — the main global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
The location is not the only change to be made, as for the first time the mentors will be a mix of women and men, as opposed to just the former during the program’s first two years. As a result, each student will have both a female and male mentor.
Another element that is unique about the Dior mentorship program is that all mentors are young and at the beginning of their careers at the fashion house, instead of senior executives.
“It’s a way to give them awareness about gender equality issues at the very early stage of their career,” Emmanuelle Favre, senior vice president of human resources at Christian Dior Couture, told WWD, adding that she is convinced that tackling gender equality issues requires the support of everyone, especially men.
“If we build the awareness of the men at the very beginning of their career, then in the coming years when they will become leaders of the company they will be more than proactive and supportive to help women and put women at the top of the organization,” she said.
As for what the program will involve, the teams will embark on a women’s rights and human rights social project, working with local associations.
Mentees will also get the chance to learn more about how Dior operates behind the scenes, meeting influential people from within the company and visiting some of its workspaces.
The Women @ Dior initiative is part of parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s broader commitment to promote gender equality through its EllesVMH program, launched in 2007 by Chantal Gaemperle, group executive vice president of human resources and synergies.
“Dior is a good illustration of the role of the group and how this leadership and the vision that the group has established is actually used,” she told WWD.
The conglomerate, which owns brands including Louis Vuitton, Moët & Chandon, Guerlain and Sephora, will be holding its own EllesVMH event in Paris today.
Gaemperle said the event will in part celebrate the company’s progress in its goals to achieve parity in the number of men and women in management positions in two years’ time (it’s at 42 percent women), as well as acting as a push to make sure this goal is achieved.
It will also be where the group signs the U.N. LGBTI standards of conduct for business.
“We want to be more vocal at recognizing and valuing diverse and inclusive work environments and the rights in particular of LGBTI community so we are going to sign — like we did for women in 2013 — the U.N. charter for the right of LGBTI people in the workplace,” she said.
Gaemperle believes this sends a strong message that LVMH will not tolerate discrimination of any kind and reinforces that the company celebrates diversity in all facets.
“What matters in an environment like ours is performance and merit over where you are coming from,” she added.
She revealed that the group’s head of human resources, based in Hong Kong, will lead the company’s global diversity and inclusiveness initiative, which will be rolled out this year.