Why these companies are bringing in more women than ever before.
When it comes to the advancement of women in America, it’s tough to keep an accurate tally.
On one hand, the #MeToo movement has emboldened women to speak out about instances of mistreatment at work and simultaneously pushed corporate leadership to promote and pay female workers more fairly. On the other, a recent series of political dramas and a cold, hard look at the data can easily give the impression that one step forward for women is often undone by two steps back.
New insights from nonprofit research group The Conference Board, in collaboration with Heidrick & Struggles, this month revealed that the number of female CEOs at S&P 500 companies rose to a record 27 last year. But data for the current year, aggregated by research firm Catalyst, suggests some of those gains have already been reversed — with women holding 24 CEO positions (4.8 percent) at S&P 500 firms.
Another blow came in May when women held just 24 spots on the 2018 Fortune 500 list of CEOs, down 25 percent from 2017’s record-breaking 32. Still, a recent wave of female hires and promotions across retail offers some hope that the tides could turn. Here, FN has rounded up 12 fashion companies that have hired female leaders in the past six months.
This month, the company hired retail industry veteran and former Lord & Taylor president Liz Rodbell. Steve Madden built a new position tailored specifically for her: group president of retail, accessories and licensing. (In addition to its flagship brand, the company owns Betsey Johnson, Blondo and other popular labels.)
After a four-month search — following the departure of chairman and CEO Marvin Ellison — J.C. Penney Co. Inc. tapped former Joann Stores CEO Jill Soltau to helm its business.
The heritage brand this month hired its first female creative director, Louise Trotter. The British designer will present her first collection during the next Paris Fashion Week. Trotter had spent the past nine years at Joseph before exiting the British-based fashion label in July.
Sneaker marketplace GOAT in June hired Lizzie Francis as its first COO. She is charged with overseeing the expansion and operation of both GOAT’s and Flight Club’s retail and online marketplaces. (The two entities merged in February.) Francis is also focused on improving the shopping experience for GOAT’s female user base. She was previously chief marketing officer of Gilt Groupe.
Last month, LVMH-backed Jonathan Anderson said that Jenny Galimberti, Louis Vuitton’s communications and events director, would take the top spot as Anderson’s new CEO. Galimberti became the latest in a string of female leaders appointed to the helm of LVMH fashion houses.
The megaretailer in July announced the hiring of two female leaders for major roles within the company. Walmart appointed Janey Whiteside, former EVP and GM of global premium product and benefits at American Express, to the newly created role of EVP and chief customer officer. It simultaneously named Barbara Messing its new SVP and chief marketing officer to lead that segment for Walmart U.S. and Walmart eCommerce U.S.
Neiman Marcus Group in June appointed Darcy Penick president of Bergdorf Goodman. The company said Penick’s appointment is part of its larger strategy to accelerate its digital transformation. She previously served as CEO of Shopbop, a subsidiary of Amazon.com Inc. This month, Bergdorf also brought on Yumi Shin, a former Saks Fifth Avenue executive, to serve as its executive buying director.
Reebok, like most other athletic players, is looking to more effectively court female consumers. To that end, the brand has hired several highprofile women in recent months. In June, the brand appointed former Cast Collective executive Karen Reuther as global creative director. In April, it appointed former Crayola marketing SVP Melanie Boulden as VP of marketing.
Caleres Inc. in May announced that Molly Adams, EVP of global merchandising and product development at The Walt Disney Co. since 2008, would become the new president of Famous Footwear. Adams, who joined Caleres on May 29, succeeded retired chief Rick Ausick.
Following what many have viewed as its own #MeToo awakening — underscored by the departure of about a dozen male executives — the Swoosh has made a marked push to hire and promote more women. In April, it announced that 13-year company veteran Amy Montagne was named its new VP and GM of global categories. (She replaced Jayme Martin, who left as part of the earlier shake-up.) That same month, Nike named Kellie Leonard its new chief diversity and inclusion officer.
Wolverine World Wide Inc. in May named industry veteran Anne Cavassa the new president of Saucony. She came to the brand with more than 20 years of experience in global brand building and product marketing. Her most recent position was chief customer experience officer and SVP of marketing and apparel for Brooks Running Co.
Under CEO Helena Foulkes — hired in February as the first female chief of the firm — the parent of Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor has moved aggressively to add new women to top ranks. In April, it hired Bari Harlam to serve as its chief marketing officer, effective immediately. In May, it announced the appointment of Vanessa LeFebvre as president of Lord & Taylor, replacing Rodbell.