Welcome to Glorious & Cash – Les Glorieuses launched this newsletter to talk about why money is power and matters for gender equality. In partnership with Women’s March Global, we’re taking this revolution worldwide. It’s written by Arièle Bonte.
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Can we draw inspiration from PETA to destroy the patriarchy?, by Arièle Bonte
With stock exchange growth slowing, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) US took advantage of the situation to buy shares in twenty companies, in particular fashion companies.
The goal of the animal rights organisation, renowned for its controversial protests, is to “push brands to ban wool, mohair and cashmere,” explains PETA on the website of the French branch (warning, the images used in the press release may be shocking). Among these brands is the big French luxury brand Kering, owner of Saint Laurent, Gucci and Balenciaga, but also foreign brands such as Guess, Burberry and Ralph Lauren.
By buying shares, PETA US intends to “attend shareholder meetings to put pressure on companies and ask that they stop selling products…” that are, according to the organization, “devastating to the environment and that goats, sheep and other animals have suffered and died for.” The idea is to adopt the codes of capitalism to change these companies’ practices from the inside and to guide them towards “chic, ecological and ethical materials”, explains Mathilde Dorbessan, business relationship manager for PETA France.
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This isn’t the first time that the organization has used this strategy but, as highlighted by Le Figaro, it doesn’t have enough shares and power to go against the weight of the directors of these giant luxury brands. Its strongest weapon is still lobbying, which it will have the opportunity to demonstrate to shareholders at each meeting. Could this lever for action work in the fight for other causes (other than that of animal rights)? Could we perhaps use it to reduce –from the inside– inequalities between men and women within French businesses?
To find out, I contacted la Fondation des Femmes (the Foundation for Women), and got an email response stating that “buying shares to intervene in the assembly meetings of big businesses (namely on the topic of wage inequalities) is one of the lines of thinking we’ve been discussing with legal forces for several years, but which hasn’t yet been put into action.”
Maud Frajerman, lawyer at the Paris Bar who works with the foundation, also told me by email (she’s a busy woman) that the Foundation for Women believes that “it is helpful to use all the necessary and accessible resources to reduce wage inequalities that are still too prevalent. This is why [we consider that] PETA’s initiative is an original and interesting path of action which
could be usefully and successfully replicated when it comes to inequalities within French companies.”
The lawyer reminded me of the different laws that have and haven’t been voted in and which contribute to the issue of the gender pay gap in businesses (the Professional Future law, for example.) Problem : these laws are poorly enforced, their results are not measurable and some haven’t changed anything at all. The wage gap between men and women (how many times will we have to remind people ?) is still too big in France and remains between 9% and 25% in some cases !
“The change will take time,” predicts Maud Frajerman, “time that the purchasing of business shares and the decision-making power that comes with it could help reduce.”
“Supporting female entrepreneurs today so as not to regress tomorrow” : while the health crisis is putting many people in economic and professional difficulty, a group of women has launched a manifesto to raise awareness around the impact of the crisis on women. You can read (and sign) the manifesto here.
The health crisis hasn’t affected your wallet, and you have money to invest? Eva Sadoun, co-founder of LITA.co (participatory investment platform dedicated to social entrepreneurship and lasting development) published a column in which she encourages investors to invest in services of general interest. You can read her arguments here.
If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know of my passion for crowdfunding, especially when it comes to feminist projects. After Gaze magazine, here’s another: La Revue des Muses (Muse magazine), based in Lyon and whose pledge is simple: make female and/or LGTB writers visible. To support this committed and local creation, head to KissKissBankBank.
Notebook « The feminist revolution starts here »
You can still find our beautiful notebooks, in French blue, and in English, in blue or pink.
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Arièle Bonte is a French journalist specialized in equality, gender and sexuality. For three years she was leading RTL Girls, for RTL.fr. Today she’s an independent journalist but she still has the same goal: spread the news through the gender prism. She also wrote a novel « Le Chaos des décibels » (Librinova), and she’s the author of the newsletter « Spell it out » about modern witchcraft. Her dream is to meet Lana Del Rey, to travel around the world and to have a green thumb.
A MESSAGE FROM OUR PARTNER
For more than a 100 years, L’Oréal has been dedicated to beauty. With its international flotilla of 36 brands and its 86.000 employees, the Group achieved 26.9 billion euros of sales, its best year of sales growth in more than 10 years in 2018.
L’Oréal has long been a leader in gender equality. Worldwide, as of 2018, women account for 69% of our workforce, 47% of our management committee members, 31% of our Executive Committee members and 54% of our key positions.
L’Oréal firmly believes in Diversity and Inclusion, and is convinced that Women’s leadership must be promoted in order to achieve a more
inclusive workplace. Its commitments across the years have marked the Group as one of the leading organisations globally: in 2018, women represent 46% of the board membership, 54% of the Group’s key positions, and 66% of the Global brand general managers. L’Oréal was ranked Top gender-balanced company in Europe by Equileap in 2018 and is among the TOP 100 companies in the Bloomberg 2018 Gender Equality Index.