This year marks the 10th anniversary of the creation of the Kering Foundation, which combats violence against women. As the White Ribbon For Women 2018 campaign gets underway, Executive Director Céline Bonnaire explains this fundamental commitment for the Group.
What led to the creation of the Kering Foundation?
The Foundation was born in 2008. Although the Group was called PPR at the time, it had already begun its move toward becoming Kering: a Luxury group with a global presence. As part of a wide-ranging review of the Group’s commitment to philanthropy, François-Henri Pinault wanted Kering to be involved in a truly international issue, one where the Group could make a significant contribution. At the same time, that issue also had to be coherent with the values of a company where 60% of its employees and 80% of its customers are women.
As François-Henri Pinault later recognized, his meeting with Salma Hayek proved to be decisive. As someone who had long been combating violence against women, she helped him realize the sheer scale of an issue that directly affects one woman in three worldwide. Back then, the subject was taboo. But from that moment onward, François-Henri Pinault felt the Group could and should take a stance on this problem.
In 10 years, how have the Foundation’s activities evolved?
For the first five years, the Kering Foundation supported a wide variety of initiatives around the world. But to make a greater impact, our activities needed to be focused on a few priority geographical areas. In 2013, we decided to focus on supporting a limited number of projects launched by local organizations in order to provide more effective support, both in terms of funding and mentoring. As a result, we have concentrated on the three regions where Kering and its employees have the biggest presence – North America, Europe and Asia. In each case, we have aligned our priorities with local approaches and needs.
In China, we focused on domestic violence, which affects more than one in four Chinese women. In Western Europe, we looked at harmful traditional practices such as Female Genital Mutilation. In France alone, three out of 10 adolescents whose parents come from countries that practice FGM are believed to be at risk – usually when they are on a trip to another country. In Mexico and the United States, we have witnessed a particularly high prevalence of sexual assaults. We decided to take an approach that had already been tried out successfully in Latin America, which is to involve men to combat and to prevent this kind of violence.
What are your other activities?
Another important pillar of our activities is to raise awareness about violence against women. Internally, since 2011, in partnership with national organizations, we have been organizing awareness-raising training sessions for our employees in France, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. It is a responsibility for the Group to offer a supportive and inclusive work environment for women survivors of violence. At the same time, we began raising awareness among the general public on the occasion of November 25, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
In 2012, Stella McCartney suggested a redesign of the white ribbon – which symbolizes men’s commitment to combating violence against women – that was originally created in Canada in the 1990s. So, we created a badge, which was distributed in our Houses’ boutiques. For the past two years, the campaign has been 100% digital and is promoted by all our Houses– which gives an extraordinary resonance to our campaign.
Why did you choose the subject of cyberbullying in 2018?
To eradicate violence against women, we are convinced that prevention needs to focus on men, from a young age. Last year, with the #CouldHaveBeen campaign, we targeted Generation Y, drawing on iconic designers of Kering’s Houses, including Alessandro Michele, Creative Director of Gucci.
This year, with #IDontSpeakHater, an international digital campaign, we invite Generation Z to stand up to cyberbullying. It’s an issue that has a double resonance with our activities, because although women are 27 times more likely to be bullied online, it affects men too. It also aligns with our recent partnership with Promundo, an American organization that has been working for the past 20 years to get young men involved to combat violence against women.
Photo : Copyright Jean-Luc Perreard