After graduating from the University of Hong Kong, Eva Yu knew she wanted to work in a people-centric industry and was thrilled when she eventually landed her “dream job” at L’Oréal. She started out as brand manager for Biotherm and began expanding her remit, taking on more brands and more responsibility.
While Yu may have worked her way up the corporate ladder in traditional fashion over two decades, she has also broken new ground. In 2011, she became the first Asian woman appointed managing director for Travel Retail Asia Pacific, overseeing all L’Oréal’s duty-free business across 27 markets—and she’s continued her glass-shattering rise.
“I am proud of being a leader in the beauty industry, an impactful industry that can move the world in different ways,” says Yu, who became president and MD in Hong Kong in 2016. “It has proven to be both resilient and sustainable, and everything my team and I do has the potential to have significant impact on our consumers, our industry, and our planet.”
Determined to be the first and not the last homegrown Asian female leader, Yu is working to elevate other women at L’Oréal as part of building an inclusive team that brings diverse perspectives to the beauty industry. Below she elaborates on her approach to leadership, how science is driving more individualised products and L’Oréal's work to address social issues through corporate initiatives and public campaigns tackling domestic abuse and depression.
You’re the first Asian woman appointed as president and managing director of L’Oréal Hong Kong. What does it mean to you? Why does it matter?
I am proud to be a role model who inspires and coaches women from diverse backgrounds to break the glass ceiling, empowering them to unleash their potential. Being able to pass on my experience to inspire and empower women is immensely fulfilling.
My role is also about changing people’s perceptions of beauty. Beauty is more than just skin deep; it has a profound impact on people, from making them feel better about their looks to growing their self-esteem to helping them express who they really are. Together with my team, I want to showcase our brand purpose of “creating the beauty that moves the world,” which includes being diverse and inclusive, empowering women, caring for our planet and constantly innovating as a business.
How is L’Oréal more broadly playing a role in empowering women and influencing beauty standards?
We support women inside L’Oréal and in the world around us. Since 2014, we have supported the Women’s Empowerment Principles, a collaboration between UN Women and the UN Global Compact that offers guidance on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community.
We are committed to the creation of an equal opportunities environment and family-friendly policies and extensive learning opportunities within L’Oréal that empower everyone to reach their full potential and be themselves. As a business, the Group set aside a €50 million “L’Oréal Fund for Women” in 2020 to empower women at risk. It is part of L’Oréal for the Future, our sustainability programme which addresses the great social and environmental challenges.
Our brands are also using the power of beauty to take on social issues. In 2020, Y.S.L. Beauté began the “Abuse is Not Love” global programme to help combat domestic violence while Maybelline launched the “Brave Together” initiative to destigmatise anxiety and depression and support mental health accessibility. Lancôme’s “Write Her Future” philanthropic programme, which aims to benefit 100,000 women by the end of 2022 through literacy, mentoring and entrepreneurship, will also be coming to Hong Kong later this year.
The beauty industry is not just a woman’s business; we create products for people of all identities, cultures and backgrounds and we strive to have diverse teams— Eva Yu