Coty strengthens its culture and colleague engagement with Workplace


Six months after launching Workplace, Coty has achieved over 70% adoption and engagement. Find out how the world’s third largest beauty business has achieved these results and used Workplace by Facebook to improve internal communication and strengthen its culture following a large scale merger.

Coty’s portfolio is a veritable ‘who’s who’ of luxury, professional beauty and consumer beauty brands: COVERGIRL, Max Factor, Rimmel, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Hugo Boss, Gucci, Wella Professionals, Sebastian Professional, OPI or ghd – the list goes on.
Jim Smith, VP Global Internal Communication & Engagement, joined the business in October 2016 just as the merger with Procter & Gamble Specialty Beauty was finalised.

Jim Smith, VP, Global Internal Communication & Engagement

“When I arrived, we were a company embarking on a major transformational journey with a huge task ahead of us to bring together two separate organisations and create a unique and differentiating digital-first culture. To support this, one of my key priorities was to overhaul and modernize our internal channels’ infrastructure.”

New Coty’s purpose is to celebrate and liberate the diversity of consumers’ beauty with the mission to be a clear challenger in beauty. Jim’s task was to bring these themes to life in all internal communication activities and tools.

Heralding a new era

Jim Smith continues the story: “What we had was a pretty old-fashioned, top-down, brochure-ware intranet which was creaking at the seams. The business was heavily reliant on email and there was no easy way to gather feedback. It was clear that we needed a modern, responsive internal digital platform that would encourage two-way feedback, was mobile first with a consumer grade user experience, supporting today’s multimedia content.

“With eCommerce being at the forefront of Coty’s growth strategy, we needed an internal tool to drive the right digital behaviour and encourage a mindshift change. It was a great opportunity for us. The challenge was to find something that was disruptive, cutting-edge and reflecting our role as a beauty pioneer.”

This was not an easy thing to pull off; the gauntlet had been thrown down. Jim Smith hired the consultancy team at simply (owner of this publication) to advise on the strategy and choice of platform for the project.

First things first

In order to establish a list of priorities for the project, there was a strong methodology and a great deal of research undertaken to really get under the skin of what the business wanted. The output from senior stakeholder interviews and colleague focus groups around the world was brought together to understand the business requirements. From this, a list of priorities was established which meant the team could go to the marketplace and assess a whole range of products and find the right solution for Coty. “It’s fair to say that Workplace wasn’t at the top of our agenda but the more we investigated and challenged Workplace, the more convinced we became.” Jim Smith told us.

Plan for success

“It was July 2017 and we got 70 of our creative marketing experts on board to really road test it. The idea was that this key user group would become our ambassadors. It wasn’t rocket science, but by starting small we were able to quickly get to grips with the product. Feedback was good and with our annual company conference coming up in September we decided it was a perfect opportunity to take the next step and showcase Workplace to top 420+ leaders.”

Senior leadership on board

“Getting it out to this leadership team early on was the best thing we ever did,” explained Jim. “Many of them recognised the potential of the tool and the difference it could make for Coty. They went back to their various teams as champions, already endorsing it. It’s the best way to do it.”

Flush from this early success, the company calendar then lent them another perfect opportunity to broaden the reach of Workplace. Two weeks after the conference, Coty was to mark the first anniversary of the merger in a month-long celebration throughout October. And it was all on Workplace.

It was a fast timeline that demanded a well-orchestrated project plan and a great deal of collaboration.

Working with a wider project team

While the project was driven by Corporate Affairs, it would have been impossible without the support of IT, HR, Legal and the Facebook project team. In fact, it was one of the new Coty’s first global cross-functional projects in action.

Early on Coty created an IT working group , bringing together colleagues from technology infrastructure, security and systems integration alongside the Workplace team. Creating an engaged technical team that would help with the provisioning of accounts and seamless, but secured, access for Coty colleagues was key to a successful launch.

Coty also established a governance model involving local taskforces made up of HR, Corporate Affairs and IT colleagues. With these three elements coming together, they then reached out to digital natives in all functions.

Jim Smith again: “At a project and team levels, Workplace is a fantastic tool to bring the right people to work together, sharing actions and decisions, discussing ideas and best practices. With the multi-company group function, it’s also ideal if you want or need to include external partners. From inception to conclusion, every bit of interaction on a project is visible to all which dramatically speeds up efficiency and effectiveness .”

Marie-Laure Pigeard joined Jim in the early stages of the project as Global IC Manager, from Eurostar where she had worked on their intranet.

Marie-Laure Pigeard , Global IC Manager

“While we launched Workplace to the majority of the organisation in October 2017, we had to take a different approach with Germany as we needed to go through a system approval process with our different German Works Councils. We worked closely with our Legal team and our German Corporate Affairs and HR colleagues to ensure the Works Councils were briefed on the technology and on all implications for German colleagues – and were able to launch a few months later.”


9 months on – success stories

It has been a whirlwind, but we asked Marie-Laure about any specific successes she attributes to Workplace. “Initially, Workplace has been naturally used to share and celebrate individual and team successes across the world. For a young organization like us, this has been vital in holding us all together and establishing our entrepreneurial and results-focused mentality. Building on this, we’re now increasingly seeing colleagues using the tool to share best practices and ideas for others to replicate – endorsed by senior leaders – and to ask questions to support learning and development. This is the ideal formula to improve our ways of working and to break down silos.

“For example, an open group dedicated to generating ideas to drive traffic to salons has led to more than 90 ideas shared by 11 different countries in just one month, attracting a total of 28,000 views.

“More than 500 colleagues with a passion for sustainability have come together and created the Change Makers group. We consulted with them via Workplace to develop and drive our responsible growth agenda across Coty.

“We also used the platform to generate feedback from colleagues around the world. We brought together over 900 colleagues over 24 hours, covering all time zones, to help us shape our employer brand work. If you compare this to how many focus groups would have been required to gather all this information, the benefits speak for themselves.

“The mobile aspect of Workplace is vital for us. We have a long way to go but being able to reach our teams in plants, distribution centers, on the road and in labs and stores is finally giving them a voice.

“In less than a year, we have come a long way. It’s not perfect, but we have started to connect the organization in a way we would have never been able to do before.”

Lessons learned

Having launched Workplace in only a few weeks, we were keen to find out if Jim and Marie-Laure had any regrets. Jim explained: “If I’m honest, the start-up culture we have here at Coty is very beneficial; it means we just get on with things. Stuff happens. But it also means that we are often doing things at breakneck speed! Maybe we launched a little too quickly and without warming up the organisation enough. To some extent we have been playing catch up, but you know, whatever we did would not have been perfect and sometimes it’s best that you just jump in and start swimming!”

What next? Bots?

As for the team’s future plans, Jim said: “Our original aim was to have Workplace as our collaboration tool and to use a SharePoint homepage to deliver Coty news and to access company documents and business apps. However it quickly became clear that introducing another interface on top of Workplace would not be popular, so we started playing around with bots.

“We have been working with our technical partner Azuronaut on an effective solution. The aim is to make Workplace our default browser landing page and to integrate a chatbot for colleagues to search across our SharePoint sites, hosting company policies, documentation or brand assets. This will allow our people to search, find and extract the material they need when they want it – and directly from Workplace

“We firmly believe that having Workplace as the default landing page for everyone will have a positive impact with the added benefit of boosting adoption and engagement.

“All in all, it has been an exciting initiative and we are delighted with the results so far – but our journey has only just started and there’s much more to come”

Jim Smith and Marie-Laure Pigeard will present their case study in person at smileexpo in London on May 21st.

Regan Collins of Azuronaut will also run a workshop at the same event about bots.