Angela Ahrendts’ Move to Apple: a Loss or Gain for Women?

18 Oct 2013|Added Value

Having trawled through the twitter noise surrounding Angela Ahrendts’ move to Apple it’s clear that many people see it as a huge loss.  A loss to Burberry naturally, but also a loss to womankind.

You see, this move brings the grand total of female CEOs within the FTSE100 to just two. And the sentiment among the global female business community seems to be one of frustration and disappointment.

Frustration at the miniscule representation of females amongst the leaders of the biggest companies in the world is understandable.  However, the disappointment surrounding so called ‘loss’ to womankind is harder to understand from where I am standing.

Angela Ahrendts has not died.  She has not even retired.  She has decided to leave the comfort of the fabulous organisation and brand she has played a major part in building in order to take on a great big hairy beast of a challenge.

Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts to join Apple

Whilst Angela has achieved great things at Burberry, her new challenge makes that of Burberry look relatively small by comparison.  Apple is not just bigger in size, scale and turnover, it’s also vastly different.  Yes both businesses have highly desirable and well-known brands that have seamlessly integrated the world of digital into their communications, but that is where the similarities end.  Angela will be going from the world of glamour and luxury to the world of widgets and interfaces.  From elegance and beauty to utility and ease.  From British to global.  From exclusive to mass.

All things considered, reflecting on this move within the context of the loss to women in business completely undermines the enormity of it in my view.  As far as I can see, the only loss here is one of the title of CEO. Everything else is surely a gain for us women in business?

Perhaps it’s the measure of equality (or inequality) that is causing the problem here.  Looking at the number of female CEOs leading the world’s biggest organisations is probably misleading.  For a start, a company of this size and scale is never led by just one person alone as we all know.  And moreover, as a woman in business myself, I can safely say I am inspired by ambition and achievement rather than by title, position or level of responsibility held.

Angela’s decision to move is inspiring in itself for the courage and ambition it demonstrates.  But if she succeeds (and I for one am rooting for her) it will be a colossal achievement that makes her not just one of the most successful women in business today but one of the most successful businesspeople of all time.


Written by Nina Rahmatallah, Brand Director, Added Value UK

Image source: The Guardian and Los Angeles Times

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