Best Buy reaches out to female employees and customers

Chain hopes to tap into female buying trend

National home electronics retailer Best Buy Co. Inc. (BBY) is in the midst of expanding a Bay Area and Los Angeles program devoted to building female employees as business leaders and tapping into growing female market power. It’s also launching a private-label high definition flat-panel television that retails for $500 less than competing models.

If those things seem disconnected, it’s because stereotypes of big speakers, big boxes and big testosterone persist while the market itself has changed, Best Buy VP Julie Gilbert said in an interview Monday. The Consumer Electronics Association said in 2004 that women accounted for $55 billion of electronics purchases in 2003, besting men’s $41 billion.

While online pundits have questioned that data, the company has seen that women are driving more purchases, and are interested in the improved aesthetics of the flat-panel television over the old analog boxes, according to a report on Best Buy done by RBC Capital Markets. Since the analysts cite flat screen televisions as a major long-term trend that’s pushing families to spend more money per square inch of screen than ever before, female purchasers could be particularly important.

But women in electronics stores still sometimes face the same sales chauvinism as in car lots, Gilbert said. She began the company’s Women’s Leadership Program, or woLf, to catch that market and improve women’s opportunities atthe company. “Packs” of 25 women and two men from each of the chain’s regions meet regularly to talk sales and product ideas and to create supportive environments for career growth, Gilbert said. Each group is composed of a mix of ranks, with the idea that good ideas and people can get exposed to executives.

“By putting together this group of levels, you’re also developing relationships,” Gilbert said. “Titles go away, and they’re able to build a network for themselves. Women historically have not been able to build the network men have had. Women have not been as good at being deliberate. This is deliberate and it is at scale.”

The program in the Bay Area and Los Angeles was appreciated by the staff, and successful enough that woLf will complete nationwide expansion this summer, Gilbert said. The goals for next year include increasing female recruitment and retention by 10 percent each. The company employs around 100,000 people in the U.S. and 125,000 worldwide.

No member of the San Francisco store team took part in the pilot, but a Pleasant Hill staff member did, employees said. The Pleasant Hill member was unavailable at press time.

kwilliamson@examiner.combusinessBusiness & Real Estate

Just Posted

A felled tree in Sydney G. Walton Square blocks part of a lane on Front Street following Sunday’s storm on Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
After the rain: What San Francisco learned from a monster storm

Widespread damage underscored The City’s susceptibility to heavy wind and rain

Plan Bay Area 2050 is an expansive plan guiding the region’s growth and development over the next three decades. The regional plan addresses progressive policy priorities like a universal basic income and a region-wide rent cap, alongside massive new spending on affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. (Shutterstock)
$1.4 trillion ‘blueprint’ would address Bay Area’s housing, transit woes

Analyzing the big ticket proposals in ‘Plan Bay Area 2050’

A felled tree in San Francisco is pictured on Fillmore Street following a major storm that produced high winds and heavy rains on Oct. 24, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Philip Ford)
Storm updates: Rainiest October day in San Francisco history

Rainfall exceeded 10 inches in parts of the Bay Area

On Sunday, California bore the brunt of what meteorologists referred to as a bomb cyclone and an atmospheric river, a convergence of storms that brought more than half a foot of rain to parts of the Bay Area, along with high winds, concerns about flash floods and the potential for heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada. Much of the Bay Area was under a flash flood watch on Sunday, with the National Weather Service warning of the potential for mudslides across the region. (NOAA via The New York Times)
Bomb cyclone, atmospheric river combine to pummel California with rain and wind

What you need to know about this historic weather event

The Department of Building Inspection, at 49 South Van Ness Ave., has been mired in scandal since since its creation by voter referendum under Proposition G in 1994. (Courtesy SF.gov)
The Department of Building Inspection, at 49 South Van Ness Ave., has been mired in scandal since its creation by voter referendum under Proposition G in 1994. (Courtesy SF.gov)
Whistleblowing hasn’t worked at the SF Dept. of Building Inspection

DBI inspectors say their boss kept them off connected builders’ projects

Most Read