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Barbara Farfan

Wal-Mart and Macy’s Not the Best Retail Employers for Women in 2013 - Few Choices for Female Retail Employees With Executive Ambition Says 2013 NAFE Top Companies for Women List (WMT, M, SHLD, JCP, BBY)

By February 13, 2013

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What are the best retail companies to work for if you're a woman who has retail executive aspirations? According to the National Association of Female Executives (NAFE), the choices are few in 2013 for female retail employees who want to work their way up the corporate ladder in a retail company that is recognized for its female executive leadership.

Of the 50 companies from all industries on the 2013 Top Companies for Executive Women, only four of them have significant retail operations, and only two are companies that are exclusively retail companies. So even though 85% of all consumer purchases are made by women and 70% of businesses are started by women (according to the annual Marketing to Women Conference), there aren't that many of the largest U.S. retail companies that are making sure the female perspective is well represented in their executive leadership ranks.

You would think that the female perspective would be more valued in an industry where women comprise the primary target market. Perhaps the missing link for struggling retail chains like Sears (SHLD), jcpenney (JCP), Pacific Sunwear (PSUN), American Apparel (APP), and Best Buy (BBY) is the absence of enough female factor at the key decision-making level.

Noticeably absent from the NAFE's choice of best retail companies for females at the executive level in 2013 were retail industry giants, Wal-Mart and Macy's. Looking at a comparison of the NAFE Top Companies for Women lists from 2008 - 2012, Wal-Mart and Macy's have been on the list every one of those years, but not in 2013. This is not to say that Wal-Mart and Macy's don't have executive potential for women any more, or that the glass ceiling has been lowered there. But it does mean that there are other U.S. companies which currently have better representation in their executive ranks than Wal-Mart and Macy's, which could put them in a position for defection of their rising female management stars.

Another interesting comparison can be made between the NAFE's list of best retail employers for women and the most recent Most Powerful Women in the Retail Industry list compiled by Forbes. Even though Avon, GM, Wal-Mart, TJX, McDonald's (MCD) and the Home Shopping Network have women in the highest levels of their executive ranks, those female retail leaders are seemingly not proactively working to clear the career path for the women behind them, at least not by NAFE standards.

The thing about the criteria that the NAFE uses to compile its annual Top Companies for Women list is that really is just measuring the ratio of women who are in executive level positions in the company. So really it's more of a measurement of the past than it is a measurement of the future. If you're a woman looking for executive advancement opportunities in a retail company, it seems just as valid to use the Forbes Powerful Retail Industry Women list as job-hunting resource because at least you'll know that there is no such thing as a glass ceiling in a company that is being led by a woman who has been identified as being one of 100 most powerful women in the world.

If a company's female leadership quotient is of no concern to you, there are at least 13 ways to judge which is the best retail company to work for in 2013. Ultimately the "best" retail job is the one that is the best "right fit" for you. So figure out what's important to you and see which retail employer's values match your own. Click here for to start researching for the best retail employers >>

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