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19 Apr 2018

Pottery Barn chief’s performance-based gender-equal board

Pottery Barn chief’s performance-based gender-equal board
The company operating US brand Pottery Barn now has a board that is 50% female and it didn’t need positive discrimination to achieve it, said Williams-Sonoma Chief Executive Laura Alber on Thursday.

“People ask me: ‘How did you do that?’ There’s no bias, it’s just based on performance,” Alber told the World Retail Congress in Madrid. “We want you to perform and you damn well better form.”

Alber, who took over as Chief Executive of Williams-Sonoma in 2010, received this year’s the World Retail Congress’ Woman of the Year award. She told the congress 55% of the staff at her company are women. Retailers often employ a lot of women at the bottom of the industry but management and boards are often male-dominated.

Alber joined Pottery Barn as its Senior Buyer in 1995, going on to a newly created role as President of Williams-Sonoma, leading its global supply chain, distribution and logistics before becoming Chief Executive.

She has grown online sales and pushed out franchises of the company’s brands in the Middle East, the Philippines and Mexico. The retailer now makes turnover of $5.3 billion.

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