After 86 Years, Revlon Appoints Its First-Ever Female CEO

"... I look forward to working with Revlon’s world-class team to amplify our strategy and accelerate growth.”

When it comes to shattering the glass ceiling, women are often called upon to "lean in" as they work to pave the path forward for others in their given industry. But, after appointing Debra Perelman as Revlon Inc.'s first female chief executive officer, the company now stands to lead from the top down in an industry primarily geared toward women.

On Wednesday, the cosmetics brand appointed Perelman, the 44-year-old daughter of the company's controlling shareholder, Ronald Perelman, as the first-ever female CEO in the brand's 86-year history. While she became the COO in January, and has served on Revlon's board since 2015, her ascent to CEO comes as the brand works to stave off an expanding assortment of competitors and mounting losses. Perelman plans to build up the brand's digital and e-commerce offerings, as much of Revlon's competition comes from those companies rooted in online innovation.

"Beauty has emerged as one of today's most dynamic and fastest-growing industries and I look forward to working with Revlon's world-class team to amplify our strategy and accelerate growth," Perelman said in an official statement.


Marc Rey, the president and CEO of Shiseido Americas, recently told Forbes contributor Richard Kestenbaum, that while traditional makeup was down 1.3 percent in 2016, independent brands were up 42.7 percent, implying that the growth of  said independent brands was a reflection of a change in consumer tastes to which everyone in the business must respond. Figuring out how to accomplish this task, however, remains tricky.

Revlon, for instance, reorganized its beauty business in 2017 to refocus on its namesake label and its major acquisition, Elizabeth Arden. "Revlon bought Elizabeth Arden and its various celebrity fragrances in 2016, betting the merging of the two fading beauty giants would help bring back some shine to brands that had lost their luster," Kim Bhasin writes for Bloomberg.

Since then, rather than following in Estee Lauder's and L'Oreal's footsteps by buying up smaller, trendy beauty brands, Revlon has funneled resources into reviving its existing brands, many of which have long been stagnant. Along with such labels as Almay, American Crew and Mitchum, Revlon also owns numerous celebrity scents, including Britney Spears and Mariah Carey, which have gained renewed attention from top executives.

Perelman's appointment comes at a time when the number of female CEOs remains in flux across industries. According to the 2018 Fortune 500, there are only 24 female CEOs at the helm of these leading companies — a 25 percent drop since last year. However, as CNBC notes, Fortune's words about women as bosses in 1956 still apply today: "There are more women in executive jobs today than there were 15 years ago, five years ago, or a year ago, and men's reluctance to give them executive rank seems to be diminishing. That is not to say that the historic barriers against women in top positions have crumbled. But the surface cracks are widening."

"When I look at the company today, I look at iconic brands in a growing industry," Perelman said in the video above. "I think, for us, it's really driven by looking ahead to see what's next, to solve problems for the consumer and enhance her experience." And, as Perelman emphasizes, Revlon has always been one to empower women, and now that tendency seems to apply to both its advertisements and its behind-the-scenes operations. Here's hoping that other brands follow Revlon's lead.

Cover image via  Toronto-Images.Com I Shutterstock 

(H/T: Bloomberg)

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