Global News | Dec 14, 2017

Avon celebrates Women In Leadership programme

Women in Leadership

Latin America’s Women in Leadership (WIL) programme, launched in 2015, gives high potential women in mid-level roles the tools and long-term support they need to ascend the ranks and eventually assume leadership positions.

One of the most common gender balance problems in corporations across all sectors is a decline in the number of women at the senior leadership level.  This innovative programme helps fill that leadership pipeline.  CEO Sheri McCoy says: “I am very proud of our Women in Leadership Program in Latin America. Avon has earned an enviable reputation for being an employer of choice for women, with a high proportion of women in senior roles across all areas of our business—and we’re working hard every single day to ensure we bring more women into senior positions. This program is a fantastic example of how we’re driving this agenda as part of our business processes.”

Participants in the WIL programme are given access to formal training programs, exposure to senior leaders they otherwise would not have, help with career planning, assignments that broaden their experience, and mentorship from senior executives. In return, they are asked to develop a legacy project that will inspire their fellow female colleagues. The inaugural class comprised 11 women across four countries; Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico, and has produced great results.

Nearly half (45%) of participants have experienced a change in their position, either through lateral development or promotion, and 20% have moved from roles at the manager level to the director level. Because the program is meant to evolve as it grows, participants have also been encouraged to take an active role in co-designing it for the benefit of future classes. For many participants, the whole of the WIL program has been invaluable, but they are most proud of their own efforts to “pay it forward”.

The strides being made in Latin America represent just a portion of Avon’s larger commitment to helping the women in its workforce thrive. In 2015, the company launched its Global Women’s Strategy; the culmination of a year-long, data-centered effort to better understand how it was faring as an employer from the perspective of women employees. The result was a strategy, applied across eleven geographies covering over 70% of the workforce to date, that redoubled Avon’s efforts to support women across several key action areas: benefits, flexible work, talent development, and pay equity.

And while the company’s culture has always leaned toward having individuals and teams work in whatever way is most comfortable for them, the Global Women’s Strategy also led to the institution of a formal flexible work policy; one that provides local markets with rationale, benefits, and guidance on successfully implementing their own flex-time systems. Markets ranging from the Philippines to Mexico, and Argentina to South Africa, have successfully adapted their own set of flexible work arrangements from the global model.

Sheri McCoy adds: “Empowering, championing, and supporting women are at the heart of everything we do—and have been since the company was established more than 130 years ago. We work hard to create an environment in which women can thrive and develop their careers.”

Through programs like Women in Leadership in Latin America, and umbrella efforts like the Global Women’s Strategy, Avon continues to build on its heritage of working hard for working women – helping them succeed on their own terms.