Happy August, Broadsheet readers. Today we talk with Travel + Leisure editor-in-chief Nancy Novogrod about why appearance matters in the workplace. Have a great weekend.
• Did Indra Nooyi lose her likely successor? Target announced yesterday that PepsiCo exec Brian Cornell is the company’s next CEO. The new hire may be a win for the struggling retailer but is a blow for Pepsi chief executive Indra Nooyi. Cornell, the former head of the snack-and-drink company’s $25 billion Americas Foods division, reportedly was a potential CEO successor to Nooyi. No. 2 on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women in Business list, Nooyi is also combatting activist investor Nelson Peltz, who is encouraging the company to split its beverage and Frito-Lay snack units.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Merkel gives Putin the silent treatment. The German Chancellor hasn’t spoken to the Russian President for nearly two weeks. Merkel reportedly told Putin on July 20th to contact her only if he had updates on how he plans to defuse conflicts with Ukraine. Putin hasn’t called, signaling tension in a key relationship as Western allies work together to end the crisis in Ukraine.
• eBay barely outshines peers in diversity battle. The company revealed yesterday that 24% of its technical employees and 28% of its executives are women. eBay’s employee data shows a more diverse picture than did similar reports from Facebook, Google and Twitter. Despite the wave of tech employers releasing data on the diversity of their workforces, Apple has yet to report its numbers.
• Under Armour CEO: “Shrink it and pink it” doesn’t work. After unveiling his company’s new ad campaign and athletic clothing line for women, Kevin Plank revealed at a press event yesterday that the new initiative didn’t come naturally.”We learned that nine men sitting around a table can’t create products for women,” says Plank. The CEO ambitiously added that he hopes his new women’s business will eventually match or surpass his $2.3 billion men’s business.
• MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Jane Penner, Google’s head of investor relations, is now VP and head of investor relations at Alibaba.
Nancy Novogrod on how appearances play into success
Every Friday, The Broadsheet features an exclusive interview with a member of our most powerful women community. Today, we talk with Travel + Leisure editor-in-chief Nancy Novogrod who is about to retire after 21 years. The decision marks a new chapter for Novogrod, who plans on writing a book about how fashion and style play into success for women in business. She has a unique perspective — she’s the daughter of an extraordinary woman who, if Fortune had published a Most Powerful Women list in 1970, would have likely made the cut.
CF: Why did you decide to leave Travel + Leisure?
NN: I’ve been thinking about retiring for a little while. I wanted to leave early enough to have another career or another moment. I probably don’t want a career, but I do want to do something else, and I also do want to do a book. The story I want to tell is about my mother and is career-oriented. It’s a story about what enables some women to succeed and maintain their position through the years.
CF: What type of impact did your mother have on you?
NN: My mother was working for almost all her life. She was born in Europe and came over to the U.S. when she was four. She graduated from high school at 16 and she had a scholarship to college, but it was during the Depression, so she wound up never going to college. Her mother was convinced that she was going to be a failure. She stayed with the same company [retailer Petrie Stores], with just one little gap, for more than 70 years. I learned a lot from her growing up. A lot of it I dismissed for years because we were so different. She was kind of a challenge to have as a mother, but I realized she had a profound effect on me. I am trying to write about her and me and the element of style in women who work and how that plays a role. She was very stylish and she raised me to be a certain way.
CF: What do you remember about your mom’s style?
NN: She came of age in a very different era and in a very different way when there were very few women who worked and certainly not women who worked on her level. She ended up becoming the president of a NYSE company which was very unusual in the early 1970s. I remember her suits and her handbags, and they were always real outfits. Today the look is much more casual.
CF: Why do you think our culture can be so obsessed with image?
NN: There are lots of studies about the success of people who look good. What is particularly interesting about women is that people who came of age when I came of age in the 1960s and 1970s were told not to care about appearances. You needed to get by on your own intelligence and competence, but in fact how you present yourself does matter and can be a tool for your success.The element of appearance can be crucial in enabling and prolonging your success in a career.
CF: Can that focus on appearance be perceived as controversial?
NN: People get very angry. Some people can say it is a very anti-feminist message, but I think it’s a feminist message because we are talking about using a tool that you can use smartly. There are lots of realities. I’ve been reading The Broadsheet, and it is a hard world out there. Honing your skills is key, but part of that is presentation.
CF: Who are some powerful women whom you think hone their style successfully?
NN: Michelle [Obama] is so interesting with style. She is really the first to dress like the rest of the people who are style-conscious. She has a casual look. I personally love her style. She is not stiff, and it is not self-conscious. So many women look like they are wearing armor rather than clothing that moves with them and has an appropriate and comfortable look. I’m surprised by some women I see, even political people, with how out of sight they sometimes seem with style.
Read the rest of our interview with Novogrod on Fortune.com.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Ray Rice: My actions were totally inexcusable. After months of silence, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice finally spoke out about an incident, in which he knocked his then-fiancé unconscious. “That’s something I have to live with the rest of my life,” says Rice. The football player also talked about the pain he feels when thinking about the day he will have to explain what happened to his young daughter.
• Washington D.C. is the best city for women in business. When it comes to education, income and executive leadership, the nation’s capital is home to a significant number of the world’s most accomplished women, according to a 16-part study conducted by news outlet BizWomen. San Francisco, San Jose, Baltimore, Denver and New York City were also among the top cities for women business leaders.
ON MY RADAR
|With Obama, the glass ceiling has been broken with what (black) men can aspire to, and now we need to do the same for women and what women can aspire to. But that being said, I’m all about not having race as a factor. To me, it should just be about the best actor for the part. Who cares if the lead is an Asian male? If this is the best actor for that role, why does the role have to be indicative of a person’s ethnicity?|
|-- Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer talks with The Daily Beast about the race factor in Hollywood.|