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MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — The Network of Executive Women (NEW) launched a new movement for women's leadership and workplace change at the Food Marketing Institute's (FMI) Midwinter Executive Conference here.
NEW unveiled the "It's Time" campaign to a group of industry leaders, urging them to advance more women leaders in the retail and consumer goods and services industry, and to a create "a more flexible, collaborative, inclusive and authentic workplace for everyone."
NEW President and CEO Joan Toth hosted the one-hour briefing, which featured calls to action by NEW Board Member Amy Hahn, senior vice president of marketing for Ahold USA, and NEW Marketing Chair Lisa Walsh, senior vice president of PepsiCo Sales for PepsiCo Inc. The briefing was anchored by Kevin Coupe, founder and content guy for MorningNewsBeat.com.
"A lot's changed since NEW got its start at FMI Midwinter 14 years ago," Toth said. "NEW has grown from a handful of pioneers into one of the largest organizations in the industry, with 9,000 members, 750 companies, 100 corporate partners and 20 regions. But despite our best efforts, despite your best efforts, the number of women leaders in the industry has improved only marginally, if at all. Women make up half the retail industry’s workforce, but less than one in five corporate officers and one in 20 CEOs."
Toth pointed out that women's leadership is not just a workplace issue, but a marketplace issue, since female consumers control 70 percent of household spending and make or influence 93 percent of all food purchases.
"Women are not the problem," she said. "Men aren't the problem, either. We need to transform our organizations and create a better workplace for everyone."
Walsh introduced the "It's Time" movement by saying, "It’s time for a new leadership culture. One that’s less rigid and more flexible. Less authoritative and more collaborative. Less conformist and more diverse. More authentic and less impersonal. Women need it. Millennials want it. The times demand it."
Hahn urged the executives to rally their male leaders to become advocates for women's leadership and to join the Network of Executive Women. "Women’s leadership is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue, and our movement requires the active participation of men to succeed."
To help executives transform their organizations, NEW is rolling out four new programs:
- The NEW Executive Institute, an intensive 12-month learning course for emerging executives.
- NEW Career Accelerator workshops to help companies benchmark and improve leadership skills of their high-potential leaders.
- Two new skills-building webinar series: Innovation You and the Multigenerational Leadership Course.
The “It’s Time” movement and the new programs are a result of surveys, interviews and focus group with more than 1,500 NEW members and industry players. It's an outgrowth of the NEW 2020 initiative chaired by NEW Vice Chair Karen Stuckey of Walmart. The findings showed that individuals sought greater opportunity, authenticity and work/life flexibility, while corporate partners wanted to find and keep high-potential talent and grow their businesses. These overlapping needs are the basis for the NEW transformation of the workplace.
The Network of Executive Women is the retail and consumer products industry’s largest women’s leadership organization.