Recently, we were honored to be able to interview Candace Matthews, Chief Reputation Officer at Amway, and discover more about Candace and what role a Chief Reputation Officer plays.
Candace Matthews has been with Amway since 2007 and is currently responsible for overseeing Amway’s global reputation strategy, Corporate Social Responsibility and Amway Brand. Candace is the executive sponsor of Amway’s Diversity & Inclusion Network, and she serves on the Global Leadership Team, Amway’s key decision-making body focused on strategy development and creating memorable customer experiences.
Patricia White: Before coming to Amway, you were with global brands like L’Oréal, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and General Mills. How did you make the leap from New York to Grand Rapids?
Actually, it was quite a welcomed leap. You know, New York is great with all that it has to it, but it also impacts your personal life. So, I was commuting three hours a day, an hour and a half each way to and from work. When I came to Amway, it felt like I gave half a day to my life, and some of the quality of my life dramatically changed. The cultures of the companies were very, very different, and I felt like I had come home. There was some comfort in the familial environment of Western Michigan and of Amway. With family being so important to me, it was just a great place for me to be.
What impressed you about Amway and the direct selling model?
Amway is about helping people live better, healthier lives and helping people be in business for themselves, but not by themselves. I found that an amazing thing to be able to be a part of. The other thing is that how important relationships are in this business. Being a people person myself, I just embraced the fact that Amway was a global company. I got to learn about all cultures worldwide by helping our distributors and, particularly in the U.S.A., our Independent Business Owners (IBOs) develop relationships with their customers, and me developing relationships with them.
What did you focus on to build the Amway brand and customer acquisition and retention through the Amway Independent Business Owner?
The first thing that we had to do was understand what brands were versus just products. Because we were so global, really making sure that we had global brand positioning and a reason for being. Not only the Amway brand but for our key products like Nutrilite and Artistry. In doing so, we were enabled to help our IBOs create value for their customers. They have to have a reason for being. They are an important part of this business model and a part of Amway.
John Fleming: In July of 2020, your role at Amway changed to become the Chief Reputation Officer. The CRO is a relatively new position within the corporate and organizational structure. Could you describe your role and responsibility and what a CRO means?
For me at Amway, the chief reputation officer role is responsible for all things that impact the company’s brand. That might be things that we currently do or things that we have not yet done that we need to do more strongly to move forward.
So, in my role, the main focus areas are around sustainability in leaving the planet a better place than what we found it and our reputation, both on and offline. Also, we focus on furthering our corporate social responsibility effort. In the past, we focused around nutrition and particularly around children’s health and nutrition. When we look at our distributor population, over 70 percent are women, and we’re beginning to focus also our corporate social responsibility efforts on women’s empowerment.
The chief reputation officer does all of this. I also support our diversity and inclusion efforts. It’s thinking about what are the things that impact our company? What do we do to impact others? And how can we make sure that we’re doing it well?
What are your goals as the CRO at Amway?
I am part of a big organization. It takes a village and a globe to manage the Amway brand. If we look specifically at some of the goals that our team is working on, it is being the beacon and guiding the rest of the organization.
If we talk about sustainability, we need to set long-term goals that we are actually still working on. The important thing is not exactly what that goal is, but it is figuring out what it is, setting it out, and being very explicit about it so that we can take people on the journey with us into how to deliver it. When you talk about sustainability, you can talk about it from an environmental standpoint, or from a product and packaging standpoint, or even from a human capital standpoint, but nobody can do sustainability by themselves.
It literally takes all of us to be a part of it. The goals that we will be setting are not only for what we want to do for the environment but also for how does each of us plays a part in making it different.
It’s learning that the journey to delivering this is almost as important as ultimately where you end up. That’s probably the biggest difference in all that we do because as far as our corporate social responsibility is, we will just be enhancing what we’ve already done and trying to touch more women around the globe, trying to teach them about entrepreneurship and empowerment in their habitat so that regardless of whether they become an Amway distributor or go into business for themselves, we are helping them with the skills that they need. As far as children and children’s nutrition, that’s foundational to whom we are in making healthier children because healthier children help make healthier families, which is what we want to be a part of.
Will more companies in the direct selling channel add the CRO position?
I think it’s something that we all should consider. Because there is what we do as a company, but there’s also what we do as an industry. And within our industry, what one does in a good way impacts others and in a negative way impacts others. It’s something that we should be more cognizant of and be putting more effort behind to make sure that we elevate this entire industry because we want direct selling to be around for a long time.
For that to happen, we all have to do things to elevate it because it’s very easy to build things up, but even more quickly can something be torn down. It is critical for all of us to be doing it.
Patricia White: Perception and reputation have long been issues within the direct selling space. We recently did a cover story titled: Direct Selling Redefined – Why Industry Language and the Behaviors that Shape It Need to Change. As the CRO, what is your perspective?
I loved that article. I think one of the important things that we have to realize is, as we are providing opportunities for others, we are also providing an experience that they can’t get anyplace else. And that’s what’s important to our industry, and that’s one thing that our industry can have a greater advantage over many of the other industries. It’s that experience. It’s that high touch that we’ve always had. And granted, we have to adapt the high touch to digital, especially after COVID, but that touch is so important. And that’s one of the things that will help elevate our industry.
What is Amway’s vision for the future of the model?
Amway’s vision for the future of the model is that we want to make it 10 times easier for people to join and to earn. One of the things that we’ve found as people explore what we’re now referring to the gig economy, getting these side jobs or side gigs to make more money, they have to have easy, early earnings. The three E’s. That is critical. So that’s part of our vision, but not only the easy earnings upfront, it’s making sure that they can then build a business beyond that. Because many can do easier early earnings, but they don’t necessarily take it through to a lifetime of earnings and a business that you can build for themselves. And so that’s what we want to do. We want to make it easier for them to have their business, acquire customers, build a community, and then for them to stay and build a business in the long run.
John Fleming: As the Executive Sponsor of Amway’s Diversity and Inclusion Network, please tell us more about what that means. Can you tell us about the diversity and inclusion focus at Amway and your role and responsibility as the Executive Sponsor?
Diversity and inclusion for me and at Amway is something that the entire organization is embracing. I want to start with a quote that I love to share. Diversity is like being invited to the dance. Inclusion is being asked to dance, and belonging is dancing like no one’s watching. And we want to make sure that at Amway, that’s how people feel. Our vision is to actively encourage everyone to be their true selves and share their diverse perspectives so that we can unleash their full potential and come up with greater solutions that will impact the lives of not only our employees but the communities we serve, our IBOs and our customers. Be you and be the difference. Allow people to celebrate who they are, bring that in, but listen to that so that we can make better decisions.
Being that we are so global, inclusion is so important because we have to make an environment that welcomes everyone and empowers people from all backgrounds not only to be their true selves but to bring their insights, to contribute to our success. For us, diversity is a workforce that unleashes the power of all these different backgrounds and cultures and experiences and preferences to ultimately help us accelerate growth and innovation. Because when you have all that great thinking, it absolutely leads to better outcomes.
Of the 11 corporate officers portrayed on the Amway Corporate Website, six are women—What significance should we place on this?
Our global leadership team really represents the diversity of the business globally, but it also represents the people need to be part of the conversation to help build our business for the future. The DeVos and the Van Andel families, which are still very much engaged and connected, really believed in Amway being an opportunity for everyone. Recently a new CEO, Milind Pant, was brought in from outside of the families. Milind is an amazing CEO, and he put the best people in the jobs. He just did what he felt the business needed, and I commend him for it and the families for supporting it. I commend Amway for leading the way in such an amazingly global and diverse leadership team, and I’m proud to be a part of it.
Patricia White: We are very excited that you will be speaking at our upcoming Direct Selling University. Do you have your topic, and can you share some highlights?
I’m looking forward to doing that because I’m going to be talking about trends that are impacting the Amway business now and in the future. Just to give you some highlights about what I’m going to be sharing—looking back at last year and the challenges that were caused by the global pandemic, and the social injustices that came to light last year, and talk about how that impacted our business and made us change. Also, around sustainability, particularly environmental sustainability. The third is the idea around making things simple. How do I take these three things and talk about their trends, and what they’ve done to shape our direction?
What is the way you stay true to yourself as a busy executive and as a person, wife and mother?
I think for all of us, and particularly for me, staying true to myself goes back to my humble beginnings. I don’t know if you are aware, but I’m from a very large family. I’m the youngest of 18 children. My father was a minister, and my mother was a homemaker. They instilled in us very strong values around faith and education. That type of upbringing and those humble beginnings make me understand that you can never forget who you are or from whence you’ve come, and that titles really don’t make you who you are. It’s really about what you are put on earth to do and give and share to others. And my mother taught me three mantras. She always used to say, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Secondly, “When the Lord closes a door, he opens a window.” And thirdly, “Unto whom much is given, much is required.” Those are the foundational pillars of me.
What do you want to be remembered for?
I’d love to be remembered as a person and a leader who loved to nurture people, who loved to develop people, and open doors for others, particularly those who may not have had the chance or the opportunity. And also, around being a lifelong learner. I love learning. I think the day you stop learning is the day you stop growing. I believe in learning and growing all the time.
What would you like to share with us?
The last thing I’d say is that I would encourage everyone just to engage and make the world a better place. Being an ally for someone, unlike yourself, or printing less paper, recycling your plastic, use a reusable bottle, instead of something that you’re going to throw away. Think about leaving everything and everyone you touched better than when you found it.