Speaking of the holidays, thank goodness for online shopping and shipping. They’re saving me this year. And apparently I’m not alone: Shoppers spent almost $31 billion online between Nov. 1 and Dec. 16, 15% more than last year. That’s a lot of stuff bought... And WSJ reports retailers are extending the deadline for purchases that can still arrive by Dec. 25.
I’ve been ordering through Amazon Prime like a fiend, and love the new Slice app that alerts you when packages have shipped, are out for delivery, and delivered (full disclosure: my sister works there).
I’ve also become a user of Birchbox, a startup that lets you give monthly subscriptions of little makeup samples, a fun treat for all the girly girls out there.
I was thinking about Birchbox last week when Avon announced that Andrea Jung, who has been chief executive of the beauty and cosmetics company since 1999, would be stepping down. The company’s stock is off 45% for the year, and while a lot of factors are contributing to the pressures at Avon, it’s hard not to think about their door-to-door sales model versus the simplicity of an online Birchbox purchase (also run by women).
Separately, any time one of the precious few female leaders of Fortune 500 companies departs, I think about “the list” and how many that leaves. Turns out, the list is at a record high in 2011. There are 18 women in the top job, with a whopping 8 new additions this year (some will take the helm in 2012, and Jung’s departure will leave 17). Fortune called 2011 a “banner” year for women.
Jung has been a fixture on this list (there the longest of any), and together these women control about a half trillion dollars in annual corporate sales across industries from tech to health care to retail, energy, food products and media. But as we see with Jung, it’s a list always in flux.
Already this year, Yahoo ousted Carol Bartz (in a story for the corporate ages, she was informed over the phone and then shot off a company-wide email telling everyone she was fired), while Hewlett-Packard brought in Meg Whitman (former eBay CEO) to run the huge but struggling company.
On the whole, 2011 was a mixed bag for women in corporate life. Harvard and Wharton accepted the most women ever into their business schools -- 39% and 45%, respectively. But as the non-profit Catalyst noted last week, women in executive leadership positions held steady at 14%, so no progress there.
I’ve interviewed a number of female CEOs and many don’t think it’s helpful to call attention to the fact that they’re female in a sea of male CEOs. And they’re right on one level. But it seems to me the more there are, the more normal it seems, and that’s got to be a good thing when women make up 46.7% of the labor force.
(Happy Holidays. We’ll see you NEXT week, just in time for the New Year.)