Fe­male Fo­cus

Why these com­pa­nies are bring­ing in more women than ever be­fore.

Footwear News - - CONTENTS - By Sheena But­ler-Young

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.

Louise Trot­ter

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