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L'Oreal rehires Black model after backlash on 'Black Lives Matter' statement

Twitter called out the brand's hypocrisy for firing Bergdorf Munroe in 2017 when she spoke out against white supremacy and racism.

The Black Lives Matter movement is gaining momentum in the USA and other parts of the world. At this time, many brands have stepped forward to publish statements on their social media channels to show support for the movement. While many consumers have appreciated the effort when a brand has expressed solidarity, there are some brands who have been feeling the heat from their behaviour in the past.

L'Oreal is one such brand. On May 28 2020, the brand published a video featuring actress Viola Davis. The ad played on the brand's tagline 'You're Worth It' in the video, we see Davis reminding viewers that "... You have reason and rarity." She says one carries value that never depreciates and asks people to repeat something and mean it: "I'm Worth it". The ad is part of a larger campaign called 'Lesson of Worth', and has been created by McCann Paris. As per AdAge, the campaign "... aims to bring more dimension to the brand's long-running 'worth it' tag."

On June 1st, Munroe Bergdorf, a model that L'Oreal had hired in the past, spoke up against the stance the brand had taken - pointing out it was not in line with its behaviour in the past. In 2017, L'Oréal Paris ended its association with Bergdorf, a black transgender model after her comments on a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In an interview with The Guardian, Bergdorf said: “You can’t use a marginalised movement for capital gain or to improve your public image. White people need to see the humanity in us – I don’t think society ever got over us being property [as slaves].”

Social media users stepped forward to show their support for her cause and soon enough, her voice was heard. After a conversation with Bergdorf, Delphine Viguier – L’Oreal Paris Brand President posted the following statement on the brand's social media page, announcing that "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."

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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

A post shared by L'Oréal Paris Official (@lorealparis) on

Bergdorf also posted a screenshot of the statement on her Twitter handle, mentioning that she was looking forward to 'new beginnings' and a 'positive relationship' with the L'Oreal team.