Gender-based analysis as a turnaround strategy at McCarthy Uniforms

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Overview

Written by Alicia Riolino and Sarah Kaplan, Institute for Gender and the Economy

McCarthy Uniforms is a uniform supplier to schools, sports teams, municipalities, and businesses headquartered in Canada. This case study focuses specifically on how the current President, Vanessa Serra Iarocci, and her team used gender-based analysis to identify growth opportunities in order to save McCarthy Uniforms from bankruptcy between 2017 and 2019.

THIS CASE WOULD BE USEFUL FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN OR TEACHING COURSES IN:

  • Gender-based analysis
  • Strategic management
  • Leadership
  • Change management

Introduction

McCarthy Uniforms built their business supplying uniforms to schools, sports teams, municipalities and businesses. Since 1956, they have sold uniforms directly to customers via a network of retail outlets, sales professionals and call centres. Despite strong customer service roots, by the mid-2000s the family-owned business was plateauing in Canada and struggling to grow internationally. When a private equity firm approached them, they accepted the investment and managerial expertise, but after ten years McCarthy Uniforms was still struggling to expand its footprint.

When Vanessa Serra Iarocci stepped in as President in 2017, McCarthy Uniforms was close to bankruptcy. It was her job to work with the Chairperson and family stakeholders to identify opportunities for growth that the private equity team had missed. She and her team used gender-based analysis—a means of identifying how men, women and non-binary people experience products, services and policies differently—to identify growth opportunities. In a short time, they spotted opportunities to innovate on their service delivery and product offering, as well as to market McCarthy Uniforms’ existing gender-friendly practices.

Since 2017, the solutions identified through gender-based analysis have supported double-digit revenue growth at McCarthy Uniforms by identifying opportunities for innovation within a mature industry and finding ways to grow without compromising service, quality or sustainability.