While Victoria’s Secret is still America’s lingerie behemoth by the numbers, they’ve had an absolutely disastrous run in the public eye and are consequently working overtime to retrofit its image for a marketing era where companies are expected to at least pretend they care about empowerment and inclusivity. Good start might be putting more women into management!
Bloomberg reported from Victoria’s Secret investor day, where they were talking up their plans for revamping the old gal, which, as a reminder, was founded in the 1970s by a guy who wanted a place where men could buy their wives lingerie without feeling awkward. “There’s a big belief in the company that we need to evolve,” said Victoria’s Secret Lingerie CEO John Mehas, adding that, “We need to be led by her, for her.”
How’s that going? Well:
The irony wasn’t lost on shareholders who raised the issue with Bloomberg News during a break. Of the 11 speakers during the L Brands event, excluding an introduction from Amie Preston from investor relations, just three were women. And only one gave a presentation: Amy Hauk, CEO of Victoria’s Secret’s Pink line.
One investor, who asked not to be named, said on the sidelines of the event that he and his peers were in Ohio trying to determine if the current leadership can pull off the brand revamp, especially since the management team is predominantly male. He called the shortage of women presenting striking.
Another meeting attendee asked during a Q&A session why the company chose Mehas, rather than a woman, to lead the lingerie business. L Brands founder Les Wexner noted that all the leaders of the brand have been women previously. “John is the first guy, so we don’t want to be discriminating,” he said to laughter from the audience. Mehas then gave a second response to the question, before Hauk jumped in: “As a woman, I’d like to comment,” she said to more audience chuckles, before talking about the evolving Pink customer.