On the occasion of my fifth time running the Avon Women’s Run in Berlin, I decided I needed to write about that event in which I have participated every time for the last five years.
The Avon Women’s Run is a run which organised by the make-up company Avon. The particular run in which I, my friends and a lot of other girls from our university participated, takes place in Berlin, once a year in May.
Since it was an anniversary for me, I decided that I wanted to write about the walk and the company behind it.
But what makes the Avon Run so special?
It is Germany’s biggest run for women and the biggest benefit run against breast cancer with 15 542 registrations last year.
This year, women had to be fast to register as well, because one week before the run even started, registration was not possible because the maximal number of runners had already been reached.
The 28th Women’s Run was very nice. The weather was as we expected it to be, meaning some sunshine and some rain, which seems to be always the case with the Avon Run, regardless of the weather the days before. And just like always, the atmosphere was really moving. People were standing at the running paths, cheering, clapping hands and shouting encouragements to each and everyone.
That may be one of the biggest advantages of the Avon Run: one is not only donating money for a good cause, but one also gets to be praised by random strangers.
To register and get a starting number one has to pay a participant’s fee depending on what run one is going to sprint. One euro from every participant is donated to the Berlin Cancer Society.
There are the possibilities of walking or running 5 or 10 km and every runner receives a running t-shirt with the emblem of the Avon Run and, as icing on the cake, a bag full of make-up, shampoo and stuff no one needs. It is definitely marvellous.
As I was becoming curious about the origins of the walk I searched for further information on the topic and found the International Running Circuit. Avon Products introduced the so called International Running Circuit for women in 1978 and it should give women the opportunity to show what they are able to do and to also make sure that women were not regarded to be inferior to men.
This project lasted for eight years and culminated in over 200 running events with over a million participants, in over 27 countries, including the U.S, Great Britain and German.
After some years of absence Avon re-adopted their programme in 1998 and from their Global Offices in New York, they opened the walking circle in 16 countries, including Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Venezuela, Panama, Mexico, Canada, Thailand, China, Malaysia, the Philippines and the United States.
What is Avon Products and What do they do for the Women on this World?
After I knew more about the walk itself, I searched for Avon and the things it stands for. Avon Products, Inc. is based in the U.S and sells cosmetics, perfume and jewellery in over 140 countries. In 2007 it had sales of $9.9 billion.
Avon Products is a so called multi-level marketing company. That means, they use door-to-door sales people, which are called ‘Avon Ladies’ and brochures and catalogues to advertise their products. The company’s chairman and CEO is Andrea Jung, who is the female with the longest time as CEO in a Fortune 500 company.
In 1886 the company was founded by David H. McConnel, who actually wanted to sell books door-to-door. To make women buy his books, he gave them free perfume and discovered that the perfume was becoming much more popular than the books.
He then founded the California Perfume Company in New York. In October 1939, the name was changed to Avon Products, Inc. In 1954 the sales become more than $ 55 million and Avon began using the in the United States very popular ‘Avon Calling’ advertisement campaign. (VIDEO)
As one can see at the Avon Run, Avon Products is not only a company which sells cosmetics: The Avon Foundation for Women was founded in 1955 and is the world’s biggest company-affiliated fund-raising society for women.
The Foundation brings into focus the fight against breast cancer and domestic violence against women.
In 2009, the global Avon Foundation raised and donates more than $ 725 million worldwide, including special Avon Foundation products which raised itself more than $ 150 million.
Is Avon Products really THE employer for women around the world?
Of course this sounds all very promising, but I wanted to know more about the enterprise and the way they treat their employees: There are people like Jim Cramer, who is the host of Mad Money and who says, that Avon Products, and especially its CEO Andrea Jung are one of the ‘worst operators in the Fortune 500’ , also there are rumours of a buyout by French cosmetic giant L’Oréal. Even though Avon itself presents its values as ‘Trust’, ‘Respect’, ‘Belief’, ‘Humility’ and ‘Integrity’, their are Avon Ladies who say that their is nor promoting inside of the company and the ordering of products might lead to mistakes on the part of Avon. (source)
However, there are also employees, who argue that for a job that can be organised by oneself the salary and occupation is adequate. (source)
Interestingly enough, the CEO Andrea Jung, took a seat in the board of Apple, and is rumoured to help Steve Job’s company to advance their market share in Asia.
In my opinion, Avon does very much for women all over the globe, but they simply are a company which of course wants to have profit. I think it’s nice that they are able to have their own profit but still think about others.
The world would be a better place if more people would do that.
Let me know what you think! 😀