Founder David H-Mconell
Avon Founder David H. McConnell - Creating the Company for Women
Mr. David H. McConnell - Avon's FounderAvon Founder David H. McConnell offered women a rarity in 19th century America: a chance at financial independence. In 1886, it was practically unheard of for a woman to run her own business. Only about 5 million women in the United States were working outside the home, let alone climbing the ranks of any corporate ladder. That number accounted for just 20% of all women.
On the heels of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, women were mainly confined to jobs in agriculture, domestic service and manufacturing, not exactly glamorous lines of work; the manufacturing sector, in particular, was notorious for its dangerous working conditions. On top of that, women’s wages across the board were a fraction of men’s.
For many women, McConnell would radically alter that scenario. The man behind the company for women was the son of Irish immigrants and grew up on a farm. Yet, it was this young man from rural New York, a visionary leader decades ahead of his time, who would become a pioneer in empowering women. McConnell, a bookseller-turned-perfume entrepreneur, would offer women the opportunity to create and manage their own businesses through what later became known as direct selling.
Origins of an Idea
In his travels as a book salesman, McConnell made two important discoveries. First, he quickly noticed that his female customers were far more interested in the free perfume samples he offered than they were in his books. He made these fragrances himself to serve as “door openers” when he traveled from home to home. Second, McConnell saw women struggling to make ends meet and recognized in many of them natural salespeople who would easily relate to other women and passionately market the products his new company would first sell -- perfumes.
McConnell's First Sales Representative
McConnell’s first recruit for Avon, then known as the California Perfume Company, was Mrs. P.F.E. Albee of New Hampshire. Not only did he provide Mrs. Albee and other early Representatives with an earnings opportunity when employment options for women were extremely limited, he fostered a supportive environment with a familial feel. (The company newsletter was even called the “Family Album.”) In one of his regular letters to Representatives, he wrote: “All success lies in one’s self and not in external conditions. … Misfortunes are only a discipline, and there are possibilities which often are awakened by them which suggest to us the power and strength we possess, that perhaps otherwise would never have been recognized.” No wonder the Representative ranks rose to 5,000 in just 13 short years.
Power of the Product and the People
To McConnell, the product and the people were everything to the company, and he dedicated himself to ensuring that both would be successful. In addition to inspiring the Representatives, McConnell also wanted to encourage the company's employees with the same positive spirit. A century before it would become de rigueur for companies to institute employee incentive programs and hire hordes of consultants to make sure employees were happy, motivated and productive, McConnell knew just how to rally the troops. The motivational leader created a set of guiding principles that are still the heart and spirit of Avon today. They include:
Providing an earnings opportunity so individuals can achieve financial independence and enjoy all that comes with such an accomplishment.
Recognizing everyone's unique contributions.
Giving back to the communities Avon serves.
Offering the highest-quality products with a guarantee of satisfaction.
Maintaining and cherishing the "friendly spirit of Avon."
McConnell believed strongly in the potential of people, and that in that potential lay the power of possibility and, eventually, success:
“If we stop and look over the past and then into the future, we can see that the possibilities are growing greater and greater every day; that we have scarcely begun to reach the proper results from the field we have before us.”
- David H. McConnell, Avon's Founder
Core Values & Principle
Principles that Guide Avon
To provide individuals an opportunity to earn in support of their well-being and happiness.
To serve families throughout the world with products of the highest quality backed by a guarantee of satisfaction.
To render a service to customers that is outstanding in its helpfulness and courtesy.
To give full recognition to employees and Representatives, on whose contributions Avon depends.
To share with others the rewards of growth and success.
To meet fully the obligations of corporate citizenship by contributing to the well-being of society and the environment in which it functions.
To maintain and cherish the friendly spirit of Avon.
The Avon mission is to be the company that best understands and satisfies the product, service and self-fulfilment needs of women globally.
Time and again, Avon's five values and guiding principles have served as sources of strength for the company and still do today. Avon's values date back to its founding in 1886 and grew from BIRTH.
Belief is the cornerstone of empowering Associates to assume responsibilities and be the very best they can be. Believe in someone — and show it — and that person will move mountains to prove you’re right.
Integrity should be the hallmark of every Avon Associate. In setting and observing the highest ethical standards and doing the right thing, we fulfill a duty of care, not only to our Representatives and customers in the communities we serve, but to our colleagues and ourselves.
Respect helps us to value differences, to appreciate each person for her or his unique qualities. Through respect, we help bring out the full potential of each person.
Trust means we want to live and work in an environment where communications are open — where people feel free to take risks, to share their points of view and to speak the truth as they see it. Trust people to do the right thing — and help them to understand your underlying reasoning and philosophy — and they won’t disappoint.
Humility simply means we’re not always right — we don’t have all the answers — and we know it. We’re no less human than the people who work for us, and we’re not afraid to ask for help.
Ethics & Compliance
We are steadfast in our commitment to living up to our Core Values of Trust, Respect, Belief, Humility and Integrity. As Avon Associates, we live by these values and know that by doing so we promote:
An environment of Trust and openness that encourages telling the truth always;
Respect for one another, our Representatives, customers, stakeholders and public servants who regulate and enforce the law;
Sufficient Belief in ourselves and one another to pursue our mission in accordance with our values;
The Humility to let our performance speak for itself and admit our mistakes; and
Integrity in all situations, whatever the pressures or temptations, wherever we may be and no matter the potential consequences.
Our Culture of Integrity
For more than 125 years, Avon has embraced these five Core Values.
We emphasize integrity and high-quality relationships based on respect and kindness, and assumption of personal responsibility for an ethical culture and compliance with the law by every Associate.
Our Code of Conduct applies our Core Values and our culture of integrity to our business by setting out relevant principles for ethical behavior, professionalism and good business practices. It does this by setting forth standards of conduct expected of everyone at Avon. It also lets us know where to go for help when we have questions about the proper course of action.
We are proud that Avon is a socially responsible company that expects strict compliance with the law and fosters a culture of integrity. We understand that our unwavering commitment to behaving lawfully and ethically is indispensable to our reputation, survival and success.
Create, Embrace & Apply
Our Global Ethics & Compliance Program is holistic and is focused on continuous improvement. It requires us to create, embrace and applyour high standards.
We create policies and guidance for our Associates based on our values and communicate them simply and clearly.
We embrace ethical leadership through our communications to and training of our Associates, and by establishing performance objectives and incentives that support our culture.
We apply by following our policies, and by raising concerns, investigating any possible violations thoroughly and taking necessary remediation to live up to our high standards.
And, when it looks as if we are done, we start all over again continually improving our process of creating, embracing and applying our high standards.
Beauty For a Purpose
It's Beauty that looks much deeper than the surface.
Beauty for a Purpose is anchored in a basic human truth: When you feel more beautiful, you see more beauty and create more beauty around you.
We know beauty empowers women to empower others. It's something we see every day with our Avon Representatives. They are our heroines and our role models. They are a catalyst for changing lives.
Avon's purpose is to create a world with more empowered women – by providing an earnings opportunity that helps them achieve independence through economic advancement.
Beauty for a Purpose also means giving our full support to causes that impact women. To date, we have donated nearly one billion dollars toward ending breast cancer and domestic violence.
To us, beauty is the journey, empowerment is the destination.