Progressive Grocer - June 2018 - 42

PROGRESSIVE GROCER:

How important is empowerment to
women in food retailing?
■ SUSAN MORRIS: I strongly believe that food
retailing can be a leader in advancing women's empowerment. We're one of the few industries where
you can still start your career at [age] 16 and retire at
65, never having left the company. That goes for people throughout levels of leadership, from department
managers through executives.
■ KIM REED: In terms of shopping power and
shopper engagement, women still have a major
impact and major voice in consumer preferences and
consumer trends. And an important part of delivering
for our consumers is having the right representation
in companies like ours. Representative leadership
needs to have a seat at the table and be actively
engaged with the consumer and know and react to
what's important to her.
■ SHEILA LAING: How does a retailer merchandise correctly, follow trends, know what customer
wants are, engage or entice shoppers without having
"people like me" in the aisles, designing the marketing, creating the products and merchandising the
shelves or departments? It's my experience that
having women at the table adds to the ideas, the
initiatives and the experiences of the entire group.
TAKE FROM THE TOP: The CPG retail industry
will thrive when leadership is representative of the
shopper community and actively voices the needs,
wants and myriad points of view they represent.

Is there a roadmap for
PG
achieving representative
leadership?
■ LESLIE SARASIN: At FMI, we talk often about
leading where you are in your career and developing the skills needed to make your professional and
personal goals attainable. While there's no formal
roadmap, strategies and tactics for encouraging
growth exist in the ways we establish our corporate
culture. Current leaders must maintain and foster an
environment where we encourage community empowerment, we celebrate talent and even introverts
can find their voice.
■ MORRIS: The operations path is probably
the most solidly mapped - anyone can walk in as a

courtesy clerk while they're still in high school and
in less than 15 minutes understand the roadmap of
development to eventually lead that store. I think we
do a good job of identifying talented women to take
on those roles.
As leaders we should provide development
opportunities for promising talent, no matter their
background or starting point. [But] it's important to
remember that the responsibility is shared. It's important for leaders to provide the door for women to
walk through, but it's just as critical for our emerging
leaders to have the courage to walk through it.
■ REED: There is not one way of doing it, but I
think it's very important that our male counterparts
are part of the solution. I'm a diverse woman and for
some time have led our Kellogg African-American
Resource Group. I made a recommendation that one
of my white male counterparts take over, because
diversity of both gender and ethnicity is important for
the development of future leaders.
■ CARRIE SANDER: The continued focus
by great organizations like Network of Executive
Women and Progressive Grocer, along with industry business/employee resource groups, continues
to keep the important focus on gaining parity in
the workplace for women.
■ LAING: It would start with some basics like benefit design and human resource processes that are
targeted toward attracting and retaining women and
providing employee development opportunities that
lead to lasting career paths. And most importantly,
a company must build and foster an internal culture
to support, encourage and strengthen women in all
stages of their careers.
TAKE FROM THE TOP: Companies should map
out a general plan that attracts and supports women
in the industry, as well as identifying assignments for
emerging leaders.

Describe changes you've
PG
seen in the perception and
reality of women's leadership roles
in the food industry.

■ CHERYL SOMMER: The change has
been remarkable, based on my experience with
National Grocers Association and Women Gro-



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Progressive Grocer - June 2018

Contents
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