Avon first set up its Australian operations in 1963 and branched out into New Zealand soon after. It was a period when Australian women were taking control of their own lives and Avon continues to support their empowerment today.
Women supporting other women in business
CEO of Avon Australia and New Zealand, Sharon Plant, says the biggest change she’s seen in 27 years with the company is the rise of women within the company itself and improvements to the experience of the thousands of Avon Representatives. Sharon herself has worked hard to achieve gender balance within the organisation.
“We’ve got approximately a fifty-fifty split between males and females in senior and board-level roles in the organisation, which is something that I’m really proud of,” she says.
“We’re also focused on what can we do to be flexible to support women working for Avon. Helping our Representative in running her business the way she wants to, how she wants to — giving her choices.”
Sharon is genuinely passionate about providing pathways for women to be financially independent and self-reliant and fosters a family culture amongst Representatives. “I’m always an Avon Representative for every market that I work in,” she says. “People say, ‘you can’t teach what you don’t know’ but, in my book, you can’t improve what you haven’t experienced. I believe it’s really important to walk in our Representatives’ shoes.”
A business built on more than cosmetics and skin care
Its dedicated Representatives have made Avon one of the largest direct selling beauty companies in the world, offering well known brands, such as ANEW and Skin-So-Soft, across a range of colour cosmetics, skin care, fragrance, fashion and home products. “Our business is a relationship business,” Sharon says. “I think the advancement of social media and digital just adds to the tools that our Representatives use. We refer to it as social selling and, honestly, I would tell you that Avon invented it 130 years ago. That’s why we are still here.”
Through its social selling, Avon sets out to empower and enable its Representatives, who, in turn, empower others. “I think empowering women to empower others is really important because, in that way, we are able to give back to the communities that we live and work in. Avon has a genuine desire to make a difference, it’s our legacy,” Sharon says.
Making a difference for women in Australia and across the world
Avon has made a profound impact on women’s lives through three major causes. As well as raising funds to conserve the environment through its Healthy Forests, Beautiful World cause and to support victims of domestic violence through its Speak Out Against Domestic Violence cause, Avon is the top corporate fundraiser for the breast cancer cause, raising over US$800 million as a worldwide effort.
Avon Australia and New Zealand has made its own inspiring contribution to Avon’s global Breast Cancer Crusade. “Over the last 20 years, we’ve raised about AU$13 million dollars,” says Sharon. “This year, we are celebrating 20 years of collaboration with the Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group which funds clinical trials and research geared towards finding a cure. We are incredibly proud of this partnership and all that it stands for.”
Avon key facts
- Company name: Avon Australia and New Zealand
- CEO: Sharon Plant
- Headquarters: Sydney, Australia
- Representatives: ~30,000
- Annual turnover: AU$10 billion
- Industry: Direct Selling