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Rebecca Minkoff on creating a brand and workplace for modern women

“The model most businesses are set up on is an old one. It’s the 9-to-6, these are the rules, don’t bring your personal baggage to work.”

Rebecca Minkoff on creating a brand and workplace for modern women
[Photo: courtesy of Cannes Lions]

Earlier this week at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, Rebecca Minkoff appeared on a Girls Lounge panel with Sophia Amoruso, Dee Poku-Spalding, and Berlin Cameron president Jennifer DaSilva to discuss how millennials and Gen Z are setting new demands for the future of work. DaSilva says the discussion came out of a study Berlin Cameron had done with The Harris Poll and The Female Quotient to understand what millennials think about workplace culture and what they need. “What we found was they wanted collaboration, the freedom and acceptance to bring their whole selves to work, and they wanted compassion, an environment where they can be vulnerable,” says DaSilva.

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I caught up with Minkoff afterwards to chat about the new demands of younger employees, how it relates to engaging young consumers, and why her new podcast relates to both.

Fast Company: What are some of the most significant differences between traditional business practices and what Gen Z and millennial women want when it comes to work and their employers?

Rebecca Minkoff: “I think the model most businesses are set up on is an old one. It’s the 9-to-6, these are the rules, don’t bring your personal baggage to work–and we find that doesn’t work for us. How do we balance things so we get productivity, but people feel they’re getting the balance they need between work and personal lives? So many more people want more than a job to just pay the bills. They want to be fulfilled. I’m not perfect in doing it, but I strive to create an environment where they’re as fulfilled as possible.”

FC: You’ve built a strong consumer base among Gen Z and millennial women. How does the way you communicate with your fans and consumers relate to how you communicate with your employees?

RM: “The way we listen to our consumers is the same way we have to listen to our employees. Some people have been surprised at how democratic we are, and I feel like we have to be. We’re bringing in a new position, and we’re having all the people who will be reporting to that position meet that candidate. It’s not just my brother and I deciding; it’s asking them what kind of person they want to report to. We want people to feel like they have a voice and it’s valued.”

FC: Jennifer DaSilva said that data supporting your RM Superwomen platform revealed that 76% of Gen Z girls and 81% of millennial women feel that when they see a  woman in a leadership position, they feel like they could be a leader as well. Speaking of which, I hear you’re working on a new podcast?

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RM: Yes, I have 11 interviews to do when I get back. It’s all different types of women. I think the overarching theme is: I don’t want to ask the typical questions a lot of women get asked. I don’t want to ask, “How did you get started? What’s your favorite style tip?” It’s going to be about the women who inspired them, how they inspire others. One of my main questions will be what do I not know about you that you want people to know? We never get asked a question like that.

I think we’re always trying to extend our Superwomen platform. We have Facebook, Instagram, fireside chats, but I also wanted to give people something to listen to on their commute.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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