Successful, beautiful, and influential – the list of the richest women in the world
The whole world is celebrating International Women’s Day on the 8th March. This day we warmly congratulate our dearest women: mothers, sisters, wives, friends, and colleagues. Our editors have also decided to take time and pay honor to the incredible financial achievements of some outstanding women.
Global statistics shows that even in the twenty-first century, the payment gap between men and women is quite tangible. Female employees also have lower chances of great career growth and top managerial positions. How can women prosper in such a world? Let’s examine the stories of the world’s eight richest women according to Forbes real-time data.
This time, we offer you a story of the French billionairess who has topped Forbes ranking of the richest women for a few years straight.
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers (France)
This French billionairess owns one-third of the L’Oreal control packet of shares. Her success secret is simple: Francoise was born into wealth.
The famous personal care company was founded by Bettencourt’s grandfather. Being a young scientist, he worked out a chemical formula for hair dye. It became popular among Parisian hairdressers and production grew. The company employed more chemists and beauty experts. Together they developed the L’Oreal brand. Hair coloring products were supplemented with body care, face cleansers, decorative makeup, and perfumery.
The history of the brand in general and the founding family, in particular, have some skeletons in their closet, though. Nowadays, little is spoken about the ties of L’Oreal and La Cagoule group. Being of German descent, Bettencourt’s grandfather sympathized with the Nazis. He supported the fascist-leaning radical group, both financially and politically. Many of La Cagoule’s members became L’Oreal employees after World War II. Moreover, they took top positions. Francoise’s father, Andre Bettencourt, was also among them. Her mother, Liliane Schueller, joined the family business as an apprentice. Together with her husband, they made a strong team. The principal shareholder and the deputy chairperson of L’Oreal made the company public. However, they reserved the right of decision-making heading the board of directors.
The shady past of the company didn’t intervene with their success. L’Oreal opened many international offices and continued gaining billions. Their production went to global mass markets, so the founding family became one of the richest people in the world. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers had infamous disagreements with her mother. Firstly, she married a Jew. Her husband, Jean-Victor Meyers is the descendant of a rabbi murdered in Auschwitz. Considering her family history of collaboration with the Nazis, that was controversial. Francoise specializes in cultural studies. Her academic assets include books on Jewish-Christian relationships as well as research on Greek mythology. However, the final drop in alienation between mother and daughter was the scandalous legal case.
In 2007, Francoise lodged a criminal complaint about her mother’s relationship with Francois-Marie Banier, a famous celebrity photographer. She claimed he was using her mother’s week mental and physical health to rob her of money. Liliane denied that, confirming that expensive gifts (artworks, life insurance etc.) were made out of true friendship. She also refused to go through the mental check. After a series of lawsuits, Banier was crossed out from the will. Eventually, the court ruled to admit Mrs. Bettencourt’s mental decline and incapability of running the business. In 2011, Francoise’s son became a legal guardian of Liliane Bettencourt, and Francoise herself – a guardian of her mother’s fortune.
The billionaire officially inherited her fortune in 2017, when her mother died at the age of 94. Currently, she also serves as the head of the family charitable foundation which has over $700 million in assets. She has topped Forbes ranking of the richest women for a few years straight, with some temporary surrender to her closest rival, Alice Walton. The approximate net worth of her current wealth is $50 billion.
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