Want to know the secret to Amway’s success in China? It’s women, and one in particular: Eva Cheng.
“Her insight into the marketplace allowed us to develop a strategy,” Amway President Doug DeVos said of the former secretary credited with building the company’s sales empire in China and Southeast Asia.
The direct-selling giant needed a plan after China banned direct selling after it moved into the market.
Sales in China now account for 40 percent of Amway's parent company Alticor’s $11.3 billion in global revenue last year, according to a Washington Post story examining the company's strategy in the world's most populous nation.
Chang counseled Amway leaders not to fight the communist government but to collaborate with officials to find common ground. That began with the company opening storefronts.
“We became 10 times bigger than the nearest competitor because of Eva’s approach,” said DeVos, speaking to several hundred women during a luncheon this week.
Beyond Chang, 55 percent of Amway distributors in China are women. But there are other markets where 70 percent of the sales force are women, DeVos said.
DeVos spoke about the role of female talent in the workplace during an luncheon on Wednesday, Oct. 9, by Inforum Center for Leadership. The organization unveiled its annual study looking at women in corporate director, executive director and top five compensated officer positions.
Women have lost ground, according to the extensive analysis conducted by Sheri Perelli and Toni Somers, both faculty members at Wayne State University’s Department of Management and Information Systems.
The results show women
• Hold 11.5 percent of the 850 board seats in Michigan’s 100 top public companies, up from 10.4 percent in 2011.
• Represent 12.6 percent of executive officers, down from 13.3 percent in 2011.
• Make up 17.4 percent of board members in 16 Fortune 500 companies
headquartered in Michigan, down from 18 percent in 2011 when the state was the base of two additional Fortune 500 companies.
• Account for 10.6 percent of executive directors in these companies, down from 14.8 percent in 2011.
• Number three of the 87 highest compensated officers at these firms, down from four in 2011.
The results show there is still a lot of work ahead for women and the business world, said Terry A. Barclay, chief executive of Inforum and Inforum Center for Leadership.
“Gender balance isn’t an issue of fairness as it is of economics,” Barclay told the audience.
The 50-year-old organization began as speaker’s forum and has transformed into one of the few professional organizations in the country and the only one in Michigan the combines strategic initiatives with research to accelerate careers for women.
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