NEW BEGINNINGS: Munroe Bergdorf and L’Oréal Paris are off to a fresh start.
“Looking forward to new beginnings and a new positive relationship with the L’Oréal team,” she Tweeted on Tuesday.
Bergdorf made headlines in 2017, when she was hired as the company’s first transgender model and then fired after speaking publicly about racism after a white supremacy demonstration in Charlottesville, Va., later that year.
“This week, I spoke with L’Oréal Paris’ new president, Delphine Viguier, who reached out to me directly,” Bergdorf wrote. “We had an open and constructive conversation, she listened to what I had to say and expressed her regret for how the situation was handled three years ago.”
Bergdorf also made reference to news that L’Oréal would announce separately.
“As an activist, part of my work is to encourage big businesses to understand their responsibility with regards to diversity and inclusion,” Bergdorf continued. “It’s imperative that in all industries, a wide range of people from different backgrounds and experiences are in the room at all levels and in decision making roles, to reduce oversight and to create a product that is built with all people in mind.”
Viguier, on L’Oréal Paris’ Instagram feed, wrote Tuesday she had had “an honest, transparent and vulnerable conversation with Munroe Bergdorf. We listened to each other and shared our feelings and perspectives on the situation with open hearts and minds.”
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“I had an honest, transparent and vulnerable conversation with Munroe Bergdorf. We listened to each other and shared our feelings and perspectives on the situation with open hearts and minds. It was a powerful moment of human connection. Here is what I heard from her: 3 years ago, Munroe felt silenced by a brand, L’Oréal Paris, that had the power to amplify her voice. While we both agree today that negative labels should not be used to define all individuals in any group, I understand much better the pain and trauma that were behind Munroe’s words back then and the urgency she felt to speak in defense of the Black community against systemic racism. I regret the lack of dialogue and support the company showed Munroe around the time of the termination. We should have also done more to create a conversation for change as we are now doing. We support Munroe's fight against systemic racism and as a company we are committed to work to dismantle such systems. Here is how we will move forward: As we stand united in our advocacy against all forms of racism, we will take action together. The L’Oréal Group is forming a UK Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board of voices inside and outside the company, who will influence and inform our action plan. I have invited Munroe to participate on this Board and thank her for graciously accepting. We will honor Munroe’s advocacy for both the Trans and Black communities. L’Oréal will be donating to associations that support social justice and causes that are deeply personal to Munroe’s experience. Speaking out is worth it, only if we are able to listen, learn and grow. We all want to contribute to a society in which everyone can live safely, peacefully and equally, and that begins with repairing relationships and moving forward together. I thank @munroebergdorf for her willingness to do this.” – Delphine Viguier – L’Oreal Paris Brand President Image credit: @lukenugentphotography
Viguier said she “regrets the lack of dialogue and support the company showed Munroe around the time of the termination. We should have also done more to create a conversation for change as we are now doing. We support Munroe’s fight against systematic racism and as a company we are committed to work to dismantle such systems.”
L’Oréal said it’s creating a U.K. diversity and inclusion advisory board of people from within and outside the company, which is to influence and inform an action plan. Viguier has invited Bergdorf to be on that board.
“We will honor Munroe’s advocacy for both the Trans and Black communities,” Viguier said. “L’Oréal will be donating to associations that support social justice and causes that are deeply personal to Munroe’s experience. Speaking out is worth it, only if we are able to listen, learn and grow.”
Bergdorf said that L’Oréal plans to make a 25,000 euro charitable donation to Mermaids, which supports gender-variant and transgender youth in the U.K., as well as 25,000 euros to U.K. Black Pride, an annual safe space to celebrate diverse sexualities, gender identities, cultures, gender expressions and backgrounds.
Less than one week ago, as the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining momentum in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Bergdorf published a post highly critical of L’Oréal Paris. Bergdorf wrote she had waited 48 hours before writing “to see if a public apology was possible.”