Amazon Director of Consumer Retail Fiona McDonnell talks inspiring further women, industry challenges and ensuring equal representation in leadership

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Amazon Director Fiona McDonnell: unlocking the power of diversity

Amazon Director Fiona McDonnell: unlocking the power of diversity

 January 13, 2020

“Feminism in retail is about unlocking the value of diversity,” says Fiona McDonnell, Amazon Director of Consumer Retail, talking to tamebay.

Fiona was involved in the development and delivery of Amazon Amplify, Amazon's plan to build a culture of diversity and inclusion including hiring, manager metrics, policies, training and communication. 

"I championed independent thought leadership research from WISE (the campaign for gender balance in science, technology and engineering) on how to boost diversity across the UK innovation industry and also chaired a cross-industry committee to draft recommendations and a roadmap for all companies to use in order to make changes," she says.

"Following from those insights as one example, I led the development of an interactive Confidence Communications programme (a part of our larger Amazon Amplify initiative) aimed at helping all our employees, not only women, to be more effective and confident in meetings and beyond, and to coach leaders on how to create more inclusive approaches in meetings."

Inspiring women to work in retail

Fiona explains how her role inspires women to work in retail.

"I work as a Director in Amazon's consumer retail business, most recently running our European Beers Wines and Spirits business, and I lead various commercial teams in different countries," she explains.

"I am also a mum of two and an active individual. I try to inspire women by doing all of these things in an integrated way, trying to show that it is possible to ‘do it all’, provided that is, that you set your own priorities in a way that works for you. I also mentor and regularly speak in diversity forums internally and externally and am an active spokesperson for Amazon so I make it my job to ‘be me’, to tell my story as it is and to be the best role model I can, keeping it honest and sharing my journey the way it happens and keeping it fun," she adds.

"The retail industry is increasingly attractive for women as the advances in technology and company policies, I believe, make it easier to find a way that works can fit with each individual woman’s priorities in life. There is a great deal more women in senior positions making a real impact, and that is starting to create momentum and change attitudes at the top too."

Diversity equality amazon

The challenges and opportunities of the job

Fiona shares her insights on the challenges and opportunities of being a woman in retail.

"It is getting easier to fit work and non- work with more harmony than before, opening opportunities that may have previously deterred some women. Though additionally now that is it more of a ‘must-have’ than a ‘nice to have’ to ensure diversity in business, there will undoubtedly be more opportunity for women to move forward as the hurdles start to be removed," she explains.

"In tech, women are as capable as men as we saw with last week’s A-Level results for science, so as long as we can ensure we attract women, then there are plenty of opportunities to grow, and more women to help the next ones along."

Better representation of women in leadership

In terms of the unequal representation of women in senior positions in retail, Fiona would like to see a change towards parity, quickly.

"Being a woman in a senior role is so important for a number of reasons," she says.

"First keeping a reflection of the customer base for all levels of the business is important and means having senior women where decisions are made too. Secondly, to provide a good example and a role model to inspire others. Not sure who said this, but there’s a lot of truth in 'You can’t be what you can’t see'. Lastly, I personally find it a privilege to be in a senior position, having got here despite, it is a hard climb throughout my career," she adds.

"It makes me remember that I am lucky, as so many opportunities are in some part luck, and so I extend a helping hand where possible to do the same for others. It is never too early to give back. We need senior women to steer future leaders through too."

Join ambitious women like Fiona at Amazon

If you want to forge a successful leadership career like Fiona and inspire further women leaders, search and apply for a job at Amazon.


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