Citizen Day: ever-increasing staff involvement

Greater staff involvement and even more initiatives: the 2013 edition of Citizen Day brought employees together again around the two key concepts of sharing and generosity. More than 20,000 employees from 61 countries took part in the Group’s day focused on solidarity and citizenship.


As it has every year since 2010, this “field day” gave Group employees – from all entities and every hierarchical stratum –, the chance to show solidarity with local communities in the form of meaningful, tangible initiatives. Each country identified the projects it wished to suggest, in partnership with the chosen associations, to be certain that those benefitting from this mobilisation had their specific needs met. A great number of field initiatives took place focusing on six key themes: youth, the fight against social exclusion, environment, disabilities, reintegration into the employment market and intergenerational solidarity.

20,031 employees volunteered.

61 countries took part.

4th edition.

Taking sharing further

Everywhere around the world, the event celebrating sharing and human contact has seen ever-increasing success as the years pass. In 2012, 18,400 employees took part; in 2013, that number rose to 20,000. This success is coupled with employees’ growing eagerness to better prepare for this day and to choose an initiative in harmony with their personal values. “In 2013, the newest feature was employees having the option of using the in-house social network to share photos and comments on the initiatives that were important to them” explains Internal Communications Director Carolina Schmollgruber, who organised the event. In France, more than 4,000 messages were posted. Not only is it a way to share the realisation of the projects within the company, but it also spotlights the supported associations. For it is clear that employees were most touched by the pleasure of being useful and their positive interactions with those being aided. That is what has them poised to participate in the next Citizen Day in 2014.

  • As the traditional torchbearer for Citizen Day, France lived up to its reputation in 2013 with more than 6,000 employees volunteering, a thousand more than in 2012. At the request of both employees and associations, projects involving direct interaction with the day’s beneficiaries prevailed over more tangible renovation work. “This satisfies those seeking more genuine, human contact,” says Carolina Schmollgruber, Internal Communications Director, “but it is also in response to greater social maturity that makes it possible to explore more complex situations.” This trend is paralleled by the increasingly expressed desire on the part of employees to maintain ties with the associations throughout the year.

  • On 6 August 2013, L’Oréal Argentina set up beauty salons in two shanty-towns, Cildañez and Los Piletones, in Buenos Aires. Nearly 500 women were welcomed, most of whom had never had the chance of visiting a beauty salon. After enjoying cosmetics makeovers and hairstyling from L’Oréal staff and professional hairdressers, they all left with a smile. “This initiative, which was tried for the first time in 2013, gave these women back their confidence and pride,” explains German Herrera, Managing Director of L’Oréal Argentina. “And it was also a chance for our teams to confirm the day-to-day impact their occupation has on self-esteem.” Around 190 Argentinian volunteers, or half the employees working in and around the Buenos Aires area, have also continued with the initiatives begun in 2010. This includes a “Children’s Day” with 200 mothers from the Sardá Maternity and renovations at a school in Garin, an underprivileged neighbourhood that is home to the L’Oréal distribution centre.

  • On 21 June 2013, 430 employees – out of a total of 1,900 – joined forces and got involved in Citizen Day, one third more than in 2012. Proof of a growing commitment which has focused notably on the elderly, as more than half of the subsidiary’s 50 community projects have involved seniors. Special outings were for example arranged to offer them an interesting change of pace, such as trips to the Wuppertal Zoo, exhibits or carriage rides. “When civil service was abolished in Germany in 2011, it created a kind of social vacuum, particularly in nursing homes,” explains Corporate Communications Manager Viola Sprick. “There are no longer as many volunteers and those kinds of institutions have tremendous needs.” While most initiatives come from major charitable bodies (the Red Cross, Arbeiterwohlfahrt, etc.), in 2013 for the first time employees were also able to submit their own project proposals. One example: a playground being rebuilt at a school for disabled children.

  • How do you forge staff unity around a common solidarity project and quadruple the number of volunteers? L’Oréal Korea found the answer: involve the beauty advisors, meaning 1,200 people out of a total workforce of 1,500 mobilised. “Working in department stores as beauty advisors didn’t facilitate their mobilisation,” explains JongHee Hong, Corporate Communications Director for L’Oréal Korea, “but we wanted to give them the chance to be a part of our Angel Box operation.” Since 2010, thanks to Citizen Day the employees have raised fund to support the Nuri underprivileged children’s shelter in Icheon, near L’Oréal’s distribution centre. In 2013, with the help of 1,225 L’Oréal volunteers, 74 other shelters were sent these packages filled with gifts and letters of encouragement and comfort, for a total of 354 boxes distributed, each accompanied by a €35 donation. A cheque for €15,000 was also presented to the Nuri shelter to fund higher education for four of its residents.

  • On 25 June 2013, armed with rollers and cans of paint, 350 volunteers renovated the dormitory and classroom walls of the Guadalupano orphanage. This institution, home to 180 children, is in an underprivileged Mexican neighbourhood. For volunteers, the visit was the opportunity to play and have lunch with the children, who told them their stories. A number of the volunteers, deeply touched, went back a few days later to complete the painting, while others continue to return there for football games. Of the 450 other employees who took part in Citizen Day, 200 chose to plant 1,000 trees in Mexico City and still others went to meet the elderly. For Imelda Navarette, Ethics Director at the Mexican subsidiary, “what’s important isn’t so much sprucing up the walls or planting trees; it’s restoring hope to the hearts of those who so desperately need it, to help them build a better life.”