Paloma Castro Martinez is Director of Global Corporate Affairs for LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Mrs. Castro Martinez brings extensive Corporate Affairs knowledge and experience to the Group. She previously led Richemont Group’s Global Government Affairs Department and throughout her career, developed the Regulatory, Communications and Public Affairs departments of some of the most relevant worldwide corporations.
As the Director of Global Corporate Affairs for LVMH, you are responsible for relations with the Group's various stakeholders. What actions does LVMH take to strengthen its dialogue and presence in civil society?
LVMH’s presence in civil society is based on its legacy, creativity and entrepreneurship, as well as its strong involvement in culture and art. It is a socially responsible company with a strong cultural footprint. We are a cultural and creative entrepreneur.
At the end of last year Commission President Barosso spoke about how creativity and innovation can drive Europe back towards growth and prosperity. We feel that we have a strong role to play in this and that our business model reflects well the global challenges that Europe has to face. LVMH is ‘cultural and creative’, drawing inspiration from heritage and culture and using creativity and innovation to develop a competitive and successful business model. We see it as an illustration that culture is an engine for growth – a driving force for wealth and jobs. In fact, last year we created 14000 jobs.
We are strong believers in investing back in culture in its broadest sense, sponsoring exhibitions and contributing to restorations (e.g. restoration of the Library Museum of the Palais Garnier and the renovation of the Palais Royal gardens). We are building in collaboration with Frank Gehry a spectacular building, from an engineering and architectural point of view, the LVMH Foundation in Paris. The foundation will become the Center of our cultural footprint worldwide. Again, this time, we are trying to allow for the creativity of an architect to thrive as far as possible, even, if some of his ideas had never been experimented before. Creativity s at the heart of everything we do from the innovation developed by our Perfumers to the design of a new bag.
LVMH is also very dedicated to helping the encouragement of new generations of artists and creative people, with some our latest commitments linked to the support of top British fashion college Central St. Martin's or the creation of the LVMH digital award at the photography and fashion festival of Hyeres. We are very interested in everything that has to do with society and it's evolution.
In two recent surveys, LVMH has been named ‘the most attractive employer’, having ranked number one in Trendence’s list for the third consecutive year. What makes the work environment of LVMH so attractive?
Working for LVMH and its Maisons gives one a sense of pride. The company not only produces carefully crafted items in different European countries and exports them throughout the world but also stands for ‘good news in the middle of bad news’, proving that it is possible to be successful despite the current economic situation. Our interest in vocational education, in keeping alive the heritage to bring it to modern times, through the use of technology allowing us to innovate and be creative, investing in local jobs across Europe with the opening of manufactures and the hiring of senior employees are all part of this successful business model. And it translates into the strong belief by a majority of European citizens (73%) being convinced that we have a role in keeping city centers alive and being part of their societal environment. The future of heritage, we call it.
What advice would you give to women at the beginning of their careers?
Be yourself and never give up on your objectives. Never stop learning. Never say no to any opportunities. Never say no to learning. Go the extra mile and focus on delivering at the bottom line. Take everything as an opportunity - it will become precious. I started my career working at McDonald’s, where I was negotiating with Greenpeace, worked on childhood obesity campaigns and completely changed McD’s food labeling around the world. I then worked for eBay, which approached me specifically because of the thinking out of the box I’ve gained working at McDonald's.
Never take for granted how difficult it will be when you have a managerial position. If you’re ambitious, it can be the right path for you, but it’s not for everyone. It’s about knowing yourself.
LVMH has signed on July 12, 2011 the “Women on the Board Pledge for Europe” and committed to increase women’s corporate boardroom presence to 30 per cent by 2012 and 40 per cent by 2020, showing support of Commissioner Reding’s approach to self-regulation for gender equality. How do you believe is the group going to benefit from having more women on boards?
The issue is not as simple as that. It’s not necessarily just about women’s boardroom presence. It is more relevant to have role models at all levels, who encourage people within the ranks.
What we should advocate for is balance – more women means more balance. In house, we believe that a balance in terms of gender, religion, etc... brings open-mindedness, more influence, and, it naturally translates into business benefits.