Glass Ceiling Broken With New Zale CEO

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Jun 25, 2002
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Zale Corp., the jewelry retailer, has named Mary Forte, 51, to succeed Robert DiNicola, 54, who will retire for a second time on July 31 as CEO but will remain chairman, reports The Wall Street Journal.

After working at Federated Department Stores Inc. and QVC Inc., Ms. Forte joined Zale in 1994 as president of the Gordon’s division, where she helped expand sales significantly by upgrading the merchandise assortment and dispensing with discounting. She was promoted in 1998 to chief administrative officer, overseeing corporate communications, real estate and human relations. When Mr. DiNicola returned to revive the business 18 months ago, he named her chief merchandise manager.

Business had slipped off course after Mr. DiNicola retired in August of 2000 when it moved to lower-quality goods in an effort to boost revenue as the economy faltered. To investors and analysts concerned that the company will repeat past missteps, Ms. Forte says, “I’ve certainly seen what didn’t work.”

Moderator Comment: Do women have the same opportunity
to advance to top management within retail organizations as their male counterparts?
What do retailers need to do to identify and nurture talent (regardless of gender,
race, age, etc.)?

The scarcity of women at the top of organizations suggests
that gender bias is a reality. What makes this especially difficult is that
male executives that are proponents of equal rights are largely not conscious
of their own gender biases. [George
Anderson – Moderator
]

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