Women are the primary or final decision makers in most if not all health and nutrition product categories. That means they buy for themselves, their partners and their children. And, they want brands to speak to them in a language they can understand, according to the book “Why She Buys, The New Strategy for Reaching the World’s Most Powerful Consumer” by Bridget Brennan If women are making most of the buying decisions, then it makes sense that a workforce that is inclusive from a gender and diversity perspective would benefit the business. Yet, despite gains in women’s workforce participation, women continue to be underrepresented in top leadership roles. Progress continues to be too slow, and may even be stalling, according to “Women in the Workplace 2017,” a study conducted by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co.
In 2013, the Network of Executive Women (NEW) published a report, “Women 2020: The Future of Women’s Leadership in Retail and Consumer Goods,” based on interviews and focus groups conducted in 2012 and 2013. The foreword of the report noted a lot has changed since NEW’s first report in 2005, such as the acceptance that diversity is good for business and that more women are in high-profile industry jobs. But what hasn’t changed is the numbers. In 2012, women accounted for 14.3 percent of executive officers; 8.1 percent of top earning executives; and 16.6 percent of board directors of Fortune 500 companies, according to Catalyst.
Fast forward to today, as reported in the McKinsey study, women have not made real progress. In the study, one of the key issues is talent pipeline. Regardless of industry, pipeline is highest at entry level and begins to weaken as the level of management increases with the C-suite consistently being the lowest percentage of talent pool. Industries such consumer packaged goods (CPGs), food, beverage, restaurants, retail, health care and pharmaceuticals rank among the highest in attracting women at the entry level but decline up the ladder. It also stands to reason that these industries would benefit the most from having a diverse workforce at the top, as these industries are so affected by purchasing behavior, which is often driven by women. When we speak about how a diverse workforce will help to build the health and nutrition industry, it’s about developing businesses with a deeper understanding of consumers. A deeper understanding comes from having a workforce diversity that reflects the consumer population, from the top to the bottom of an organization.
We are also beginning to learn the benefits that a diverse and inclusionary workplace can have on business results. An update on this subject was reported in The Huffington Post in 2017. “Gallup has convincingly linked engagement with positive business metrics including productivity, profitability, quality, employee commitment and retention. Diversity can improve the bottom line. Diversity combined with an inclusive culture have an even greater impact on business outcomes.” The business case for diversity continues with two clear points that speak to consumer decision making. “Many people believe that a group with diverse backgrounds and perspectives makes better decisions than a homogeneous group. Research shows that diverse teams process facts more carefully and are more innovative…A diverse culture that mirrors its markets tends to do better than its homogeneous competitors. The buying power of ‘minority’ groups is large and growing rapidly.”
Business ROI at SupplySide West
Numerous organizations have reported on the imbalances and challenges as well as the benefits to our businesses. How as organizations can we truly effect change? Learn more during the “Boosting Your ROI: Secrets to Business Success” on Thursday, Nov. 8 at SupplySide West in Las Vegas.
Debbie Wildrick is chief strategy officer at MetaBrand, a team of experts that helps companies create, launch, or grow food, beverage and supplement brands. MetaBrand does strategic planning, market analysis, branding and design, product formulation and development, outsourced operations and soon pilot manufacturing. Wildrick is a sales, marketing, and operations executive and channel strategy specialist in the consumer packaged goods industry with more than 30 years’ experience. She has had leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies including 7-Eleven Inc. and Tropicana North America (PepsiCo) as well as executive positions with several early stage brands. She has been an active member and a board member of the Network of Executive Women for 10 years and is now is facilitating the Women Owned Emerging Business initiative.