All Articles Tagged "Mary Kay"
Jennifer Hudson got millions. Jessica Simpson is reportedly earning $4 million. Weight Watchers shells out mega bucks to it celebrity spokespersons, despite a 15.6 percent decline in earnings last year. But according to a New York Times article, women who actually work for the weight loss company are complaining about incredibly low pay.
“Some employees at Weight Watchers expressed irritation at being paid the minimum wage while the company lavishes millions of dollars on celebrities like Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Hudson to advertise its weight-loss program,” writes the newspaper.
Weight Watchers meeting leaders, who go out into the community to encourage followers to continue with their regimen, have an $18 base rate, and it has not increased in more than a decade. And the workers say they are not reimbursed for mileage on the first 40 miles driven each day. An added insult, some complain, is that the overwhelming majority of its employees are women.
“We are not working for a charity or a nonprofit corp,” one Weight Watchers leader posted on the Web site. “This is a multimillion-dollar company with enough cash to advertise relentlessly on TV, and pay celebrities tons of money to lose weight.”
According to the article, Weight Watchers executives have hinted they will increase compensation for their low-wage earners in order to address the frustration.
This isn’t the first time Weight Watchers employees have been upset over low wages. Two years ago Weight Watchers reached a $6.2-million settlement to end a class-action lawsuit in California in which employees complained about minimum wage violations, off-the-clock work and receiving paychecks that did not explain how wages were calculated.
It is not just Weight Watchers short-changing their largely female workers. There seems to be a trend of low pay complaints and companies that are primarily staffed by and targeted to women. “The restlessness over low pay extends across the weight-loss industry to Weight Watchers’ rivals, including Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem,” reports The Times.
The is lawsuit pending aging Jenny Craig in which employees in New York State claim they typically work through their lunch hour, but are not paid for that time. The company denies this.
Mary Kay, too, came under scrutiny last year. According to Forbes, the company has several legal actions against the concerning earnings by its sales representatives. We even reported this morning that nursing, an area that has always been heavily female, pays its female nurses less than the men.
As if we needed it, here’s more proof that women need to be more vocal about pay and getting what they deserve. If we aren’t we’ll get shortchanged.
An article published in Harper’s goes behind the scenes at Mary Kay, revealing that joining the company’s sales force may not be all that you’d hoped. Customers might be satisfied with Mary Kay products. But for those women hoping to make extra money, or even earn a living, by selling the products, it’s a different story.
According to the author, Virginia Sole-Smith, the company does its very best to maximize its profits and foster a (false) sense of sisterhood among saleswomen. This success may come at the expense of its workforce’s income. While the company sold $3 billion worth of beauty items and makeup in 2011, the average saleswoman is struggling to make $25,000 per year, the magazine says.
The problem is much of the purchasing is done by the saleswomen themselves who are encouraged to make an “initial inventory investment” than can total more than $1,500 and to stay stocked up. Moreover, Sole-Smith says she was encouraged to make these purchases on a Chase Mary Kay Rewards Visa, which her mentor told her “is not a debt.” OK, but it is. Some women in the story say they got into huge financial trouble with the company and even had personal problems with their marriage over the issue.
So the moral of the story is do your homework and be prepared to make an “investment” if you intend to sell Mary Kay products. And get ready for some Stepford Wives-style weirdo behavior. Beauty consultants who are promoted to sales director get to take a trip to founder Mary Kay Ash’s Dallas home to snap a picture in her “heart-shaped pink bathtub, which originally occupied one of the eleven bathrooms in her thirty room pink mansion.”
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Not long ago, I was sitting at a local bar enjoying a quick bite with a friend. As he and I dished about life and sports as guy and gal pals do, a lady comes over to our table and she says to me, “You’re beautiful.” Flattered by her words, I tell her thank you and let her know that I really appreciate the compliment. I intend to get back to the conversation with my friend, but she continues. “And you’re very graceful. I noticed you when you first walked in. Are you a dancer? You have the body of a dancer.” At this point, I’m still flattered but I’m definitely getting a little uneasy. I politely thank her again, and let her know that I am in no way a dancer and that I could only dream to have the body of one. Surely our quick exchange would be over at this point and I’d be able to go on with the conversation I was clearly having when she walked over. Yet, she continues: “May I ask what kind of skin care products you use?”
It is at that point it hits me and I could hear the voice of Florida Evans crying out in the background, “Damn, damn, damn!!!”…I’ve been caught by a freakin’ Mary Kay lady.
Is it just me, or are Mary Kay consultants highly aggressive? As the young lady starts to explain to me that she owns her own Mary Kay business and would love to talk more about the products the company offers, I know instantly that it will NOT be easy to get rid of her. Even after explaining to her that not only do I rarely wear make up but that I also have a really simple and natural skin care regimen that doesn’t involve a lot of products, she refuses to give up. Now, I’m the kind of girl who rarely gives out my information. I think long and hard about giving my number out even to men I’m actually interested in. But the Mary Kay lady walked away with my phone number and email address. That’s how aggressive she was.
I can think of at least three other separate occasions when I have been borderline accosted, in very similar fashion, by Mary Kay consultants. Walking down the street, shopping, dining out, I’ve been blindsided by members of the pink brigade while doing all of these things. It always starts out innocently, usually with a compliment, and just when you start feeling yourself and plan to give a quick “thank you” and strut off—they go in for the hard sale. They do not take no for an answer.
I recently found out that I’m not alone. A number of my friends have had very similar experiences with consultants. In fact, one friend compared the tenacity of some Mary Kay business owners to that of followers of a certain religious faith who are usually very eager to share their beliefs. We’ve decided that of the two, Mary Kay is definitely more aggressive. They’re gangsta. I respect it, but I’m simply not about that life.
While I’ve decided to, henceforth and forevermore, run in the opposite direction when a Mary Kay lady makes her presence known, I know that the company offers some very positive incentives for women. Mary Kay allows women to go into business for themselves and to do so in a way that affords them the flexibility that many other careers fail to offer. In an economy as tough as the one we’re currently enduring, that’s nothing to smirk at. Consultants are able to take advantage of a 50 percent discount on products, making a 50 percent profit on all products sold. There are leadership opportunities that allow women to transition into director positions and help other consultants build their businesses. And we all know about the infamous pink Cadillacs that Mary Kay Consultants can earn; add diamonds and luxurious trips to the list of enticing incentives as well.
For some, a Mary Kay business may be just what the doctor ordered. Lots of people are searching for the perfect way to create additional streams of income for themselves. For me, I’ve been scarred and I am indeed scared. I like to tell a woman she is beautiful and keep it moving, but that doesn’t seem to be the Mary Kay way. Eh, different strokes for different folks I suppose. Since I have yet to find a successful way to emerge from an encounter with a Mary Kay consultant without giving her some sort of information, I’m just going to try to avoid these saleswomen at all costs. What about you?
Have you been in any situations when you’ve come unsuspectingly face to face with a Mary Kay lady? How did it go? If you are a Mary Kay lady, have you enjoyed your experience working with the company thus far?
Sheena Bryant is a writer and blogger in Chicago. Follow her on twitter at @song_of_herself.
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