We've joined up with four HERproject brands as part of a campaign to promote and accelerate leadership for and by women. As part of this, we asked Andrea O'Donnell, President, Fashion Lifestyle, Deckers Brands, for her experiences of and views on this topic.
What is your advice to women who are progressing into leadership roles?
As a female leader it is important to remind yourself that in most instances you are influencing a male-dominated environment. Men tend to ask for what they want and so should you. Be kind to yourself; women, in my experience, can be very self-critical. Don’t undermine your own confidence because you need it to be healthy, successful, and happy. I consider myself lucky to be at Deckers Brands. We have more women in our global workforce than men and many of our leaders are in fact female. We also will hold our annual Women’s Leadership Summit in March where we speak openly about challenges we, as women, face and work together to drive change where needed. I truly feel we are making a positive difference and driving change at our organization.
What drives your brand’s commitment to women’s empowerment and gender equality?
The facts speak for themselves. Women are in the minority when it comes to leadership roles, which can undervalue their potential contribution. High-performing teams are a product of diversity and women have different strengths when compared to men. We even saw this during WWII with women, for the first time, taking on predominately male roles in manufacturing while the men were fighting the war. During this time one riveter set a production record by drilling nine hundred holes and thirty-three hundred rivets in the tail end of a torpedo bomber during one six-hour shift. Women are assets! Having a good mix of men and women on your team is essential for continued success.
Can you provide an example of how your brand is trying to lead on women’s empowerment?
As I mentioned, we hold an annual Women’s Leadership Summit as a forum for women at Deckers Brands to learn from each other, and to raise awareness of the issues they face. We meet annually and discuss a range of important topics. The priorities that emerge from these summits then become priorities for the business. We also work closely with HERproject to provide valuable training and education to the women in our supply chain. We recognize the importance of these trainings as knowledge is power! We have seen first-hand how we are empowering women not only at our home offices but in our supply chain.
Can you tell us about women across the supply chain who inspire you?
As I noted earlier, Deckers Brands is unique in that many of our leaders are in fact women. At Deckers, both our Senior Manager and Manager of Ethical Supply Chain are female, as is our VP of Logistics and Distribution and our Director of Sustainability and Compliance. These are just to name a few female supply chain/operations leaders. I know this this is not something you often see as supply chain roles are typically dominated by men, but in the textile, clothing, and footwear industry female workers represent 57 percent of the workforce so it’s refreshing to see more female leaders overseeing a predominately female supply chain environment on the factory floor. In general, my reflection is that having female leaders in these roles gives us a diverse perspective into our supply chain.