PARIS, France — When Maria Grazia Chiuri debuted her first collection as artistic director of Christian Dior back in September 2016, models wore t-shirts emblazoned with the statement “We should all be feminists.” And, indeed, since the appointment of its first female artistic director that same year, Christian Dior has become a vocal supporter of gender equality and female empowerment both on and off the runway.
This year, in celebration of its 70th anniversary, and to coincide with International Women’s day on March 8th, the Parisian maison launched Dior’s first mentorship programme: ‘Women@Dior’ — a year long project that pairs female Christian Dior employees with female students interested in their area of expertise. “We wanted to celebrate International Women’s Day, and we quickly decided we should be empowering the young,” says Emmanuelle Favre, senior vice president of human resources.
The mentorship programme launched in Paris in March, when female students from Ecole Centrale, Institut Français de la Mode, Polytechnique, HEC, Olivier de Serres and Panthéon-Assas University, among others, were invited to tour the maison’s atelier and head office, along with the brand’s newly opened state-of-the-art archive facility: Dior Héritage.
The year long programme seeks to empower young women to achieve their career ambitions by pairing them with Christian Dior employees who will provide face-to-face careers advice and guidance once every three months. “We want to coach them very early, at the beginning of their careers or even at school, in order for them to build their self confidence, and to build a network, these are two very important levers in getting ahead in one’s career,” continues Favre.
A global project, ‘Women@Dior’ is designed to enable cross cultural, cross generational and cross functional interactions. “Young women want to own their professional destiny, to be guided, and to share generously their experience,” says Karin Raguin, director of talent development at Christian Dior. At the time of writing, the mentorship programme has been extended to encompass 200 female students and 10 global cities, including London, Shanghai, New York, Dubai and Tokyo.
For Favre, the benefits to both Christian Dior and the mentees are clear. “It is a way of showing them the professions of the business, and to show them that even as an engineer or a scientist there is a role for them in a company like Dior.”