Progressive Grocer

JAN 2017

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24 | Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What's Next | January 2017 NEW By Nancy Krawczyk E ach year, I log tens of thousands of miles to meet with women and men at every job level throughout the retail and consumer goods industry. No matter where I go, I hear this same question: "e business case for more women leaders in retail is clear, so why aren't there more women in senior roles?" e short answer: built-in bias — in society, in our corporate cultures and in the choices women are forced to make. Women of every age, circumstance and job level experience barriers that frustrate their career goals — and dampen business results. But here's the good news: By working together, our industry's talent, and the companies they work for, can absolutely create workplaces that allow everyone to reach their potential. Change is happening. We see progress toward gender equality at companies like Ahold Delhaize, e Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc., Kimberly-Clark, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, and many others. But change isn't happening everywhere, and not nearly fast enough. NEW's latest special report, "Green Lights and Stop Signs: e Road to Gender Parity in Retail and Consumer Goods," written with the Center for Creative Leadership, uncovers three critical support factors that women say drive their careers forward: organizational commitment to gender diversity, developmental support through business relationships and company initiatives, and support from a professional network. e report, based on insights gathered from more than 900 NEW members, also identifies three unyield- ing career barriers that women say impede their careers: conflicting work/life priorities, being overlooked and undervalued, and being undermined. Here are just a few of our findings: Women perceive they must sacrifice life outside of work to hold a senior leadership position. Nearly one in 10 of the women surveyed identified competing work/ life priorities as a reason that they've held back from pursuing leadership positions. Women are often overlooked — not developed for leadership positions — and perceived as having less leadership potential or career commitment. A significant percentage of women say their career goals have been undermined, intentionally and unintentionally. They report their qualifications are routinely questioned. Women of color face more career barriers and experience less career support. Change is happening, but not fast enough. e two best predictors of career satisfac- tion, we found, are the level of an organization's developmental support and the degree to which women experience being overlooked and underap- preciated. Retail leaders must ask themselves, "What career hurdles do women in our organization encounter?" "Green Lights and Stop Signs" doesn't just report on the state of women at work. It lays out a blueprint for industry leaders who want to advance women and boost their business, and for women who want to blow past the stop signs that have stalled their careers. e report advises women who want to take more con- trol of their careers to adopt these strategies: Ask for assignments that can advance your career. Reach out to senior leaders and get their feedback. Find people who can mentor and sponsor you, and participate in formal mentoring programs offered by your company. Voluntarily participate in further education, training and career-supporting events. Read career-related books and articles, and participate in leadership webinars. NEW members can attend the NEW Leadership Academy, NEW Summit Speaker Series and NEW Small Business Leadership webinars free. Build a diverse network of influential people inside your organization. Volunteer for projects that give you an opportunity to meet leaders outside of your function. Start a group of men and women who actively promote and support each other. Know your personal values, interests, abilities and areas for development — and try to see yourself through others' eyes. One strategy presented in the report is a piece of advice that I've given other women throughout my career: "Be- lieve in yourself — and go for it." For detailed action plans for women, men and industry leaders working toward gender parity, download the full "Green Lights and Stop Signs" report at newitstime.com. PG Nancy Krawczyk is VP, marketing and corporate partnerships for the Network of Executive Women, Retail and Consumer Goods, a learning and leadership community representing 10,000 members, 750 companies, more than 100 corporate partners and 20 regional groups in the United States and Canada. Learn more at newonline.org. Green Lights and Stop Signs Don't let common career barriers hold you back.

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