American Apparel has named the first woman to its board following last month's firing of CEO and founder Dov Charney. The appointment comes as part of a big board shake-up intended to revitalise the troubled company.
Colleen Brown is a media executive who is the current managing director of a consulting company called Newport Board Group, and will join American Apparel along with three other directors. Brown is the first woman to serve on the board in its 16-year history. So if you were ever wondering why Dov Charney was allowed to get away with so much... Well, there's your answer.
That's not to say that an all-male board would have necessarily turned a blind eye towards Charney's sexual antics, but it does call into question why it took American Apparel this long to realise that hiring more women at the top – as opposed to, say, in their retail outlets – was a good idea. At the very least, you'd imagine a female board director would be much less tolerant of a CEO who masturbates in front of a women's magazine journalist.
But it seems like Brown was hired with change on the agenda. According to the New York Post, plans made in early July specifically called for the board to hire a woman as a "bold counterpoint to longstanding criticism that Charney had created a hostile work environment for female employees".
Hostile isn't the half of it: Charney was hit by several allegations of sexual harassment during his tenure as CEO, and even stands accused of paying off female employees to make their complaints disappear. In one high-profile lawsuit brought by an ex-employee, Charney was implicated in the creation of a revenge porn blog that hosted nude images of the woman.
But if you're hoping that Brown may put an end to those controversy-seeking, porny adverts, you might be out of luck. In an interview following Dov Charney's departure, the company's director of marketing said he didn't foresee the end of American Apparel's racy advertising strategy.
"I think that sexuality and evocative imagery, done authentically and honestly, has always been a critical part of the American Apparel aesthetic," Ryan Holiday told Adweek. "There would be no reason for us to abandon the brand that we've built and that our customers love."
Hey, one glass ceiling at a time, right?
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