Let’s Get The Numbers Right – A Look At The Women In The Workplace Study

This article is an edited extract from the ‘Women in the Food Industry’ report, which draws from the McKinsey and LeanIn.Org ‘2017 Women in the Workplace Study’Read more about the food industry at: https://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/gender-equality/women-in-the-food-industry

The food industry continues to be a booming sector that faces a contradiction between the leaders of the industry and those who make the purchasing decisions. Women account for the vast majority of food-purchasing decisions in the United States and also make up almost half the entry-level workforce in the food industry, yet women are underrepresented across the board above this level.

In our latest research, Women in the Workplace, we find that 90 percent of the 222 companies surveyed assert a commitment to gender diversity. While it’s encouraging to see that most companies have embraced the business case for gender diversity, it is still a compelling place to start the conversation. Women are an untapped source of economic opportunity—in 2015, the McKinsey Global Institute showed that fully bridging the gender gap in the US labor market would not only be equitable in the broadest sense but also add $4.3 trillion of additional annual GDP in 2025—19 percent higher than the business-as-usual GDP. Diversity and inclusion in general are also strongly connected to corporate performance, and for the food industry, the business case for diversity serves as a strong motivating force.

When determining the health of gender diversity in a company pipeline, we evaluate four core elements. First is the representation rate, to test whether women are well represented at each level in the corporate pipeline across line (operations, P&L) and staff (support) roles. Second is the attrition rate, to determine whether women leave their companies at higher rates than men. Third is the promotion rate, specifically whether women progress through the pipeline at a pace similar to men’s. Fourth is the external hiring rate, whether employees hired from external sources are as likely to be women as men. In 2017 we looked at 31 companies spanning the food industry value chain in the United States—a roughly equal mix of manufacturers, distributors, and operators.

Here are some key takeaways from the 2017 Report:

  • Currently, women are underrepresented at all levels in the food industry corporate pipeline, from entry level to the C-suite. While women make up 49 percent of employees at the entry level, representation drops steeply at higher levels along the pipeline. At the top, women represent only 23 percent of the food industry’s C-suite This trend mirrors the broader picture across all industries, as outlined in the 2017 Women in the Workplace research
  • At every level of the pipeline in the food industry, women are less likely than men to serve in P&L (or line) roles and therefore less likely to be promoted to more senior positions, where line roles tend to be prevalent.
  • The issue is even more acute for women of color who make up only 14 percent of employees at the entry level and hold only 3 percent of C-suite spots.
  • Contrary to the common narrative, the primary driver of this steep decline is not attrition. Women in the food industry leave their companies at similar or lower rates as men of the same ethnicity.
  • Women face higher barriers to obtaining their first promotion (Twenty percent fewer women than men in the food industry reach the first promotion to manager, a finding consistent beyond the food industry.) Even more troubling, promotion rates for both men and women of color lag significantly behind those of their white counterparts at all levels.

As we continue this march towards attaining gender parity, a key step continues to be the ability to access accurate, reliable data. This is where the Women in the Workplace study comes in. This research is part of a long-term partnership between LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company to give organizations the information they need to promote women’s leadership and foster gender equality.

This year 222 companies employing more than 12 million people shared their pipeline data and completed a survey of HR practices. In addition, more than 70,000 employees completed a survey designed to explore their experiences regarding gender, opportunity, career, and work-life issues. To our knowledge, this makes Women in the Workplace the largest study of its kind.

As an industry champion, WFF encourages you to join the 2018 Women in the Workplace Study so we can continue to get sound data and a better understanding of what we need to do to make our industry the industry of choice for women.

If you are part of the Food Industry and would like to learn more and/or participate in the 2018 Study, please contact Tim Johnson, VP of Human Resources & Organizational Development for WFF at tjohnson@wff.org  

All other industries can also sign up at:  https://www.womenintheworkplacestudy.com/wix/23/p44989832.aspx

Let’s Get The Numbers Right – A Look At The Women In The Workplace Study

FINDING A SPONSOR

By Simon T. Bailey, Founder & CEO, Simon T. Bailey International Inc. 

Confidence is all about deciding that you’re going to take control of the steering wheel of your future and drive into it. Instead of the backseat passengers of doubt, fear, and uncertainty controlling you, you’re going to control and take charge of your future.

One way you can do that is by finding a sponsor.

Sponsorship is finding a person who will wear your brand t-shirt inside of a company unbeknownst to you. They are promoting you even when you don’t know about it, and then all of the sudden you’ll get the tap on the shoulder; you’ll get the invitation to take the next step in your career.

It’s important to understand the difference between a sponsor and a mentor. A mentor is someone who will tell you what they’ve done to move their career forward. A sponsor isn’t looking to have coffee with you; they just believe in your work, and they just want to help you get ahead. They don’t want anything in return.

Leveraging a Sponsor’s Influence

Find a way to celebrate what your sponsor is doing. Add value. For example, I ran into an executive on an elevator one day, and I had just read something about what that person had accomplished. I said to him, “This is amazing!”

He didn’t know me from Adam, but I knew everything about him. In just that 30 seconds on the elevator, I said, “Here are three quick reasons why this is so awesome.” Afterward, I received a follow-up note from him saying, “Great talking to you on the elevator. Get some time on my calendar. I’d like to get to know you better.”

Then when I met with him face-to-face, he asked me if there was anything he could do to help me, and I said, “Yes. I’m working on this, this, and this.” And he said, “Oh, let me make a phone call.” It would have never happened if I hadn’t have taken that opportunity on the elevator to connect.

Arrive at meetings 15 minutes in advance. I know that in some cultures, it’s the 5 minute grace period. No. The real meeting starts 15 minutes before. That’s when you get to find out what other people are doing, especially if the meeting is being led by a director or other senior leader in the room. They begin to notice that you’re just a step above the rest. You show up early. You’re ready. You connect with people before the meeting.

Understand how you connect, not just communicate. Some of you might be thinking, “I hate small talk!” Here’s how you do it: 1) find out what makes the person tick, 2) see where you have a commonality (connect with them on a personal level), 3) what is it that has made them successful at the company and 4) ask them about their projects. Build a bridge from where they are to where you are to connect.

I’m here to tell you: relationships are the currency of the future, and relationships are built in the small conversations, the connection. People will often decide in 5-7 seconds if they know, like and trust you.

Want to learn more from Simon T. Bailey? Join him at our Annual Leadership Development Conference to be held from March 4 – 7 in Dallas, TX and learn how to Break Through!

FINDING A SPONSOR

Gordon Food Service – A Model for WFF Engagement

Over the past five years, Gordon Food Service has been on a transformative journey to attract, retain and develop women at all levels of the organization.

The North American company began working more closely with Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF) to learn new ways to attract and retain talented women at the company and bolster what it was doing in diversity & inclusion (D&I).

Gordon Food Service’s efforts are not only paying off in terms of retention and engagement of women, but the company is also a role model partner for applying WFF content and resources.

“As we started to focus on retaining and attracting talent, WFF gave us an awareness of numbers and data that made us take a step back and reflect on our portfolio and the path we were on,” said Elena Buist, D&I Ambassador for the WFF & Gordon Food Service Core Team. “WFF helped set us on the path of where we needed to go.”

The Path to Change

Gordon Food Service knew it had to put an emphasis on gender diversity to stay competitive in the labor market, said Clif Charles, Director of Diversity & Inclusion.

“As we looked within our ranks, we found that we did not have a lot of women in key leadership roles,” he said. “We recognized that more work needed to be done in D&I and that this was going to be that driver for attracting, retaining and developing women.”

Clif wanted to know what Gordon Food Service could do from the distributor side to provide opportunities for training and development and show the company’s commitment to D&I.

“We recognized that we had resources at our fingertips that could help us. We knew this could be part of our business strategy,” he said. “But we weren’t taking full advantage of WFF.”

The team in Canada was the first to engage with WFF by attending WFF Leadership Development Workshops and the Annual Leadership Development Conference and hosting networking events.

“We had a D&I connectivity point with WFF in Canada, but we didn’t have a real strong connection in U.S.,” Clif said. “We began to look internally to see what we had been doing. Once we began to understand what we were doing internally, we found that WFF amplified what we had. It was a good opportunity to align more closely with WFF.”

Gordon Food Service began sending more employees to our Annual Conference as part of their leadership development. And managers were seeing tangible results.

“When teams returned from Conference, employees started asking more questions about how to get these types of development opportunities. It really began to pique women’s interest,” Elena said. “Then our leaders started to say, ‘Hey, we are onto something. How do we engage more employees?’”

The company also began working more closely with WFF to focus resources on D&I.

“This year, we started a new diversity and inclusion training that is mandatory for our leadership,” said Laura Urzola Rivas, Talent Acquisition Supervisor. “I think it helped shed light on different ways we can promote professional development to people who are different from us and look at some of our unconscious biases.”

Employees have also seen a greater emphasis on training and professional development and are having more conversations around Individual Development Plans (IDPs).

“I saw a difference within the first year of working here,” Laura said. “The number of employees that we sent to the Conference spoke for itself about Gordon Food Service’s willingness to invest in our future. I have also noticed more activities throughout the year to promote women’s professional development through book clubs, speakers and general awareness about career growth.”

The WFF & Gordon Food Service Core Team contains about a dozen passionate team members who are spreading the WFF mission. The group hopes to increase membership engagement and awareness about WFF. While the company has sent hundreds of employees to the Annual Conference, it wants to increase the number of employees who attend each year. It also recommends leaders use an evaluation process to select attendees.

Today, the team has the full support of Rich Wolowski, North America President and CEO, and other senior leaders like Mary Beth Zick, Chief People Officer.

“We strongly believe that we best serve our customers when our workforce reflects the communities in which we serve,” Mary Beth said. “We are delighted in the growing partnership with WFF as we invest in the attraction, retention and development of women in our organization.”

Gordon Food Service – A Model for WFF Engagement

DON’T MISS OUT: LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES WITH WFF

By Velda Foster, Global GMS Coordinator, Griffith Foods Worldwide Inc.

As most Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF) followers know, registration is underway for the 2018 Annual Leadership Development Conference March 4-7 in Dallas.

This is a great time to educate and engage your friends and colleagues in the food industry about this amazing organization.

WFF is one of the best leadership development sources around. It is committed to advancing women in our industry, and it inspires us to take action. The group provides members with the tools they need to master skills, gain knowledge and achieve higher goals, as well as build relationships and networks. Being involved with WFF is being involved with a greater goal – and each member’s advancement means advancement for women in the food industry.

Members return from the Leadership Development Workshops, Conference and other events with renewed passion about their leadership, network connections and ideas to improve their business/organization’s processes and systems. Businesses and companies experience an immediate return on investment.

WFF works with approximately 200 companies in the food industry like Griffith Foods. It has hundreds of volunteers and a 24-member Board of the food industry’s top women and men.

WFF is changing the face of leadership. All year long. All career long.

Join the movement by taking the following steps:

  1. Attend a Leadership Development Workshop in your city. Two opportunities remain next month in Los Angeles and Denver.
  2. Share your experience with your network connections.
  3. Register for the March Annual Leadership Development Conference.
  4. Be a catalyst for change!
  5. Start a Lean In Circle within the WFF Chapter.
DON’T MISS OUT: LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES WITH WFF

WFF LEADS THE WAY TO ACHIEVE GENDER EQUITY IN FOOD INDUSTRY

We know the food industry is one of the largest employers of women in the private sector. We also know that women are surpassing men as paid workers today.

Yet, women remain dramatically underrepresented in senior leadership. Our industry’s leadership must reflect the workforce and consumer to ensure fairness and diverse viewpoints in corporate decision-making.

The face of leadership in the food industry is about to change, with the help of WFF and 31 food industry champion companies that took part in the 2017 Women in the Workplace Study.

WFF celebrated the release of the 2017 Women in the Workplace Study with leaders from Denny’s, Gordon Food Service, McLane Foodservice and other industry companies this week in New York. McKinsey & Company will unveil the food industry-specific portion of the study in mid-November. This information will give us benchmark data and insights needed to achieve gender equity in our industry.

“There are many business advantages of a gender-diverse workforce,” Hattie Hill, CEO and President of WFF, said during a reception with representatives of the food industry this week in New York. “The food industry will thrive as we become the most sought-after employer for ambitious, talented women and will benefit from the diverse viewpoints of a gender-balanced workforce.”

From left: Alexis Krivkovich, Partner with McKinsey & Company; Susan Adzick, WFF Chair-Elect and Vice President of Sales and Marketing for McLane Foodservice, Inc.; WFF President & CEO Hattie Hill; and Marie Perry, WFF Chair and EVP & CFO of Jamba Juice.

WFF thanked partner companies for participating in the comprehensive study, which looks at the state of women in corporate America. The research is part of a long-term partnership between McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org to give companies the information they need to promote women’s leadership and foster gender equity.

For this year’s study, 222 companies employing more than 12 million people shared their pipeline data and completed a survey of HR practices. This is up from 132 companies and 34,000 employees who engaged in 2016. Read key findings of the latest study in a special report by the Wall Street Journal.

The 31 food industry companies will receive company-specific data from McKinsey by Nov. 16 and can then begin charting their path to accelerate women’s progress in their organizations.

“You are our Industry Champions. You are making it possible for us to understand the state of women leaders in the food industry better than ever before,” Marie Perry, WFF Chair and Executive Vice President & CFO of Jamba Juice, said at the reception.

How WFF will Lead the Way

WFF is serving as a conduit to engage food industry companies in the study and help them create gender equity in our industry. WFF is launching the Lead the Way Initiative to support partner companies in this endeavor and connect diversity and inclusion efforts with key business drivers.

“Your continued engagement will transform these new insights and data points into a springboard for both company-wide and industry-wide initiatives to change the face of leadership in the food industry,” said Susan Adzick, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for McLane Foodservice, Inc., and WFF Chair-Elect.

As part of the Lead the Way initiative, WFF will:

  • Serve as a consolidation point for gathering and sharing industry data.
  • Convene industry leaders to share best practices.
  • Create leadership development programs, such as unconscious bias training, as well as resource materials and tools to support companies.
  • Drive accountability among members with a gender equity index.
  • Build content to strengthen women’s interest in and capabilities for serving in operational business roles.

    McLane Foodservice participated in WFF’s Lean In Circles campaign this week.
  • Engage food industry companies in the WFF Lean In Chapter, created to drive small group peer mentorship. The WFF chapter launched circles across the nation on Tuesday in conjunction with the release of the Women in the Workplace Study.
  • Gather Human Resources and Diversity & Inclusion leaders to address issues and solutions around women’s advancement.

WFF will introduce several additional new programs at our Annual Leadership Development Conference in March and also discuss findings from the food industry portion of the study.

The food-industry portion of the study will enable us to extrapolate the data to our industry at large. We hope to have more than 100 participants in the 2018 study to broaden our understanding of the state of the industry. If you would like to participate, please contact Tim Johnson, WFF Senior Director of Human Resources, at TJohnson@wff.org.

 

WFF LEADS THE WAY TO ACHIEVE GENDER EQUITY IN FOOD INDUSTRY

LEAN IN WITH WFF OCT. 10, START THE CONVERSATION

By Tamra Gaines, WFF Director of Partner Engagement

Women accomplish amazing things when we support each other. When a woman helps another woman, they both benefit. And when women celebrate one another’s accomplishments, we’re all lifted up.

In partnership with LeanIn.org, we are dedicated to empowering WFF members to engage in Circles within your own company. Circles are small groups of like-minded individuals who meet once a month to discuss issues that are relevant to them both personally and professionally.

We invite you to Lean In with WFF by being a Circle Leader and hosting your first Circle with other partner companies around the nation on Tuesday, Oct. 10.

WFF Executive Summit – Denver 2017

All you have to do is join the WFF Lean In Chapter (wff.org/leanin), start a circle within our chapter, and invite peers (women and men) to participate with you. The goal is for these small groups to meet regularly to learn and grow together and support each other locally. Circles are a perfect complement to WFF’s mission to accelerate the advancement of women leaders in the food industry.

At Executive Summit in July, Marinn Jackson, Head of Industry, Restaurant Category for Facebook, got us thinking about the idea while discussing advancement of women at Facebook. She also facilitated Lean In Circles with our audience of executives that led to enlightening discussions.

The Oct. 10 WFF Lean In Circles coincide with the launch of the 2017 Women in the Workplace Study, which will deliver unique insights into company performance on gender diversity and the actions needed to accelerate the path to gender equity. This year, WFF convened the food community to help gather industry-specific data. Initial results of the study will appear in the Wall Street Journal on Oct. 10 and could serve as a resource for your circle discussions.

By joining the WFF chapter, you will be linked with other Circle Leaders so you can share your outcomes and learn from theirs as well. Circle Leaders will also have opportunity to Lean In … And Win with the incentive of having one of our WFF executive team members conduct a Circle at your location in 2018.

Watch this webinar for more information about facilitating a Lean In Circle. Also, feel free to contact me at TGaines@wff.org if you have any questions.

 

LEAN IN WITH WFF OCT. 10, START THE CONVERSATION

WFF CEO: NETWORK WITH A MISSION

By Hattie Hill, President & CEO, Women’s Foodservice Forum

With our Leadership Development Workshops (LDWs) starting this week in Chicago, it’s time to create strategic connections in your local markets.

Building a business network is critical to helping you make meaningful connections, accelerating your communication, and propelling your career. It can lead to lifelong relationships, visibility to senior leaders, and partnerships with other companies in our industry and local area.

When you attend events like our LDWs, I encourage you to network with a mission. Set a goal, such as, “I will meet six new people at this event” or “I will connect with one of our customers.” Think of two or three points you want to share when you meet new people. Also, be sure to take plenty of business cards.

WFF offers the following tips to LDW attendees to help them make the most of their workshop experience.

Tips for networking during an event:

  1. Ask questions – After you introduce yourself, get to know the person and build rapport by asking sincere, thoughtful questions and listening to the person’s responses.
  2. Share – Communicate specifically what you do in two or three sentences.
  3. Be a connector – Think about someone else you can introduce your new contact to.
  4. Take notes – Ask for the new contact’s business card and write a few notes on the back of the card after they walk away. Or add the person’s contact information to your phone.
  5. Introduce yourself to the WFF organizer – A WFF representative can introduce you to other attendees.

After the event, be sure to follow up by sending your new contact(s) an email within 72 hours. Maintain communication with him/her by email, phone or in person on a reasonable basis. You can also send a LinkedIn invite.

Our workshops are a good opportunity to meet new people – including noted speakers and company leaders. Equally important, you will learn from experts and receive actionable insights that are immediately applicable to you and your organization. Click here to learn about upcoming workshops.

Get ready to Lean In with WFF on Oct. 10

You will also have a chance to network with your colleagues on Oct. 10 as WFF hosts Lean In Circles with our partner companies around the nation.

Lean In Circles are small groups that meet regularly to learn and grow together. They are helping women step outside their comfort zones and grow through adult learning and peer mentorship. You can start a circle inside or outside your company.

Activate your circle today and Lean In with WFF and Facebook. Here is how:

Join the WFF Chapter and start your own circle within our chapter. Invite 8-12 of your peers to join your Lean In Circle. You can start a circle inside or outside your company, and anyone is welcomed to join you.

We will provide more details about the Oct. 10 circle activity in the coming weeks through our social channels, website and newsletter.

Happy networking! We hope to see you at one of our upcoming events.

WFF CEO: NETWORK WITH A MISSION

GUEST BLOG: WHERE HAS WFF BEEN ALL MY LIFE?

By Joyce Lamilla, Director, Business Development & Nutrition Services, Ben E. Keith Foods


Joyce Lamilla and several of her colleagues from Ben E. Keith Foods are headed to a WFF Leadership Development Workshop on
Sept. 26 in Dallas. Find out what Joyce hopes to gain from the Workshop.

Q: You attended your first WFF Leadership Development Workshop (LDW) last year. Tell us about your experience:
I have worked as a Registered Dietitian since 1986 in various aspects of the healthcare/food industry and attended many conferences over the years. I was so surprised that prior to working for Ben E. Keith I had never heard of WFF/Women’s Foodservice Forum.

Within the first 10 minutes of attending the Leadership Development Workshop in Dallas last year, I said: “Where has this organization been all my life?” I felt that I had missed out on years of valuable education and networking opportunities and have since learned that among the dietitian community, I was certainly not alone – none of the dietitians I have spoken to had heard of this wonderful organization.

Q: What made you decide to attend the LDW?
I had heard nothing but great things about WFF from my coworkers who had attended the Annual Leadership Development Conference. They came back energized and raving about the speakers whom they heard. So, when I learned WFF was having a local, one-day leadership Workshop, I jumped at the chance to attend.

Q: What were your key takeaways from the Workshop?
The Workshop delivered actionable insights that were immediately applicable, and the networking opportunities were so valuable. The speakers provided actual successful strategies to build behaviors to improve leadership skills. I appreciate the fact that they use research-based competencies at the core of all that they do.

Q: How have you applied what you learned?
It helped me cultivate my career development plan and recognize my strengths and opportunities as a leader. From this new understanding and awareness, I have developed an action plan to improve areas needing further personal/professional development. I have tried to implement some strategies in the areas of goal-setting and walking in gratitude. I am still learning to handle conflict with confidence and grace!

Q: Have you activated a network?
At the 2016 Workshop, we learned we need a mentor, an advocate and a sponsor. I am still working on this but have definitely expanded my network of women leaders in the field.

Q: How are you sharing what you have learned?
I am currently the chair of the Dietitians in Texas Healthcare Communities, a group for consultant dietitians in the state of Texas, and I have shared the invitation to attend the Annual Leadership Development Conference in Dallas in March.

Q: What do you hope to gain from attending the Workshop next month?
I hope to again be inspired by this year’s topics. I hope to strengthen my leadership competencies in the areas of communication and listening, influence and diplomacy, and building networks. I am also looking forward to networking with some very talented women leaders.

Q: Have you encouraged other colleagues to go with you?
Yes, I even volunteered to work on the Leadership Development Workshop Dallas Market Host Committee. I wanted to be part of the team to work to expand WFF’s reach and drive attendance to the Leadership Development Workshop in Dallas.

I especially wanted to reach out to the dietitian community to let them know of this valuable resource.

Q: How can dietitians benefit from the Workshops?
Although Registered Dietitians are an integral part of the health care team, and many take leadership roles within their organizations and participate in professional societies, I don’t think we are generally exposed to this type of specific skill training to excel as leaders. I will be applying these leadership development skills to improve my strategic thinking and working to continue to hone my leadership behavior to lead future successes, both personally and professionally.

Learn more about our LDWs and register to attend one in your city at workshops.wff.org.

 

 

GUEST BLOG: WHERE HAS WFF BEEN ALL MY LIFE?

GUEST BLOG: JOIN ME FOR A CHAT ON MULTI-GENERATIONAL INTELLIGENCE

By James H. Pogue, Ph.D, CEO, James Pogue Enterprises


Engaging with colleagues can sometimes be challenging, especially in our cross-generational workplace.

This is the first time in history that our workplace contains five distinct generations – Traditionalists (born 1945 and earlier), Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964), Generation X (born 1965 to 1976), Millennials (born 1977 to 1995), and Gen Z (born 1996 to present), according to The Center for Generational Kinetics.

In our multi-generational workforce, it is critical for us to recognize the value of generational knowledge; respect various generational experiences; recognize what leaders bring into the workplace; and acknowledge total life experiences.

Understanding is everything.

Leaders of an organization must respect different generational perspectives; develop the filters to reduce and eliminate bias; leverage multi-generational intelligence to build deep relationships based on data; and improve overall team productivity. As a leader, you are able to give respect to the perspectives of different generations.

Join me on Twitter for the next #WFFChat at 1 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday, Aug. 22, to discuss “Multi-Generational Intelligence: Build Trust & Respect Across Generations.” We can connect at #WFFChat.

We will talk about drivers of employee performance and engagement tools, along with ways to eliminate negative behaviors.

I will also talk in-depth about this as a speaker at WFF’s Leadership Development Workshops, where we will apply the takeaways to build trust across generations. I worked closely with WFF to tailor industry-specific content for these one-day workshops. If you have not attended a workshop, they are a great place to network and learn essential leadership skills for your advancement.

I hope to hear from you during WFF’s Twitter Chat next Tuesday and see you at one of the 12 workshops coming to your city this fall.

GUEST BLOG: JOIN ME FOR A CHAT ON MULTI-GENERATIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Guest Blog: Turning Ideas Into Action

By Jennifer Schiffman, VP of Marketing, Blacksmith Applications

I’ve always been passionate about career advancement and growth support, particularly related to women in the workforce. Having spent most of my career in larger organizations, like KraftHeinz, I perhaps took for granted the available development channels.

Then I reentered the food industry in a VP level role with a more entrepreneurial company. This helped me to see how important it is for smaller organizations to reinforce talent development and commit to cultivating women leaders within the organization. We can’t let these efforts die on the vine. Without the organizational structure to offer a multi-tiered ladder, it is critical for companies like mine (Blacksmith Applications) to support growth in nontraditional ways. And, with a little help from our friends – like Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF).

Engaging with experts at the WFF Executive Summit is part of my initial strategy to turn ideas into action. My personal goal, and thus my goal for Blacksmith Applications, is to take away learnings to fuel the flame of engagement with our women talent and to build a plan that our business can sustain in support of leadership development opportunities for the women we wish to grow and retain.

The Top 5 things I hope to take away from the WFF Executive Summit and bring back to Blacksmith:

  1. Tactics for essentialism – How can we achieve next level results by getting the right things done in our organization? How can we teach and foster productivity strategies that reduce non-value-added work?
  2. Best practices for women in the workplace – What are the leaders doing? How is it resonating? What might work for Blacksmith Applications?
  3. Understanding of demographic transformation – What does the shifting landscape of the workforce mean for our organization and the industry?
  4. Peer success stories – What are our peers doing to create a more inclusive workforce? What are the real examples of successful efforts? Can these strategies be implemented at Blacksmith and if yes, how?
  5. A stronger network – The women and men involved in the WFF Executive Summit are committed to the cause. I hope to return with connections to support change at Blacksmith and within the food industry. Strength in numbers.

WFF is our partner. They offer many programs and events to advance women leaders. This is critical to activating a talent strategy for women at Blacksmith.

In April, we sent several women to the WFF Annual Leadership Development Conference, and it was a tremendous success. Those women returned to the company with a renewed passion, not only about their personal potential, but also about ideas to improve the business. We now have 10 WFF members at Blacksmith, and the entire leadership team is aligned as we encourage those individuals to take full advantage of the online and offline opportunities to connect and engage.

The women of Blacksmith Applications are excited to continue on this important journey with WFF.

Join the conversation to accelerate women’s advancement in the workplace at the 2017 WFF Executive Summit, July 24-26 in Denver, CO. Visit summit.wff.org to register. 

 

Image