An Avon lipstick

PARIS — Avon Products Inc. is launching Stand4her, a worldwide, 10-year initiative to help 100 million women annually by improving their earning power and ability to have safe and happy lives. It is part of the beauty company’s overarching strategy, called Open Up Avon, instigated by group chief executive officer Jan Zijderveld.

“The core purpose for Avon is to enable women to earn their own incomes on their own terms,” Chris Wermann, Avon chief communications officer and president of Avon Foundation for Women, told WWD.

It involves the launch of the Avon Academy, a mobile-enabled platform and in-person learning program for full- and part-time Avon representatives, which is set to train a half-million entrepreneurs monthly. It’s billed to be among the biggest training initiatives worldwide and aims to give women learning and development opportunities via online videos, interactive learning modules and support from peers. The Academy will, as well, allow Avon representatives to be better equipped with training, tools and techniques for their work, according to the company.

“We anticipate touching 5 million women within a year,” said Wermann. “If we can help [a representative] increase her earnings, skills and opportunities, that will increase the top line for Avon, as well.”

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Avon commissioned research with input from Oxford Economics that showed women still feel held back from running their own businesses. The economic potential of women is limited by up to 50 percent, which translates into a possible loss to worldwide gross domestic product of $12 trillion to $28 trillion annually.

Economics aside, 77 percent of women polled said working increases their confidence; 65 percent said it improves how they are treated by others, and 74 percent said it had improved their ability to be a role model for their children, the study found.

Stand4her is multipronged, including the Avon Fair for Her Program, created to help improve working conditions for approximately 250,000 women throughout the company’s supply chain. There’s also the Avon Foundation for Women Scholarship Program.

Further, the Stand4her plan sets out to address — through a new Avon brand strategy starting in late spring 2019 — the belief that 80 percent of women feel that brands put too much pressure on them to be perfect. “We believe every woman, regardless of their demographic — age, sexuality, color or anything — should all be able to feel beautiful,” said Wermann.

The Avon Breast Cancer Promise, backed by the Avon Foundation, intends to reach 100 million women yearly, so they can understand the risks and signs of breast cancer.

There’s the ongoing commitment to help eliminate gender-based violence against females, with the idea to educate 100 million women each year about the issue, and Avon’s Global Women’s Employee strategy focused on the needs and ambitions of female employees, and on giving them conditions in which to thrive, the company said.

Avon’s program is a work in progress, with new concepts being tested and scaled, plus new collaborations being explored.

The Avon Entrepreneurs Program, for instance, will involve beauty brands created by women for women. “We’ve been looking at turnkey products, so those that come in on-trend, on-season, on-price,” said Wermann. “We are creating a platform for them across the world for them to sell their products.”

“[Stand4her] is a 10-year business plan, so it will be built over time,” he said.

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