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Major shortage of women execs found in retail

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A vast gender imbalance persists at the highest levels of the grocery retail and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry with females under-represented in executive roles, according to new findings from ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine (ESM).

The study examined 150 companies from across the global grocery retail and FMCG sectors, including a total of 1,354 executive committee members. Results show that 85.1 per cent or 1,152 of these executive members were men, while only 202 were women at 14.9 per cent.

These numbers account for women occupying fewer than one in six positions on executive committees.

“Within the European grocery business, women are hugely important, as the most important consumers targeted by retailers and brands,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of ESM. “However, at the top level – at retailers, FMCG businesses and third party suppliers – women are significantly underrepresented, as this study demonstrates.”

Meanwhile, only four of the businesses featured in the study have an executive committee in which 50 per cent or more are women, while 55 companies have no executive committee female members at all.

Other study stats show that 13 of the featured companies have a third or more women, while a quarter or more women sit on the executive committee in 34 companies.

“On this, International Women’s Day, leading retailers and suppliers should take a step back, and examine ways to improve their gender balance – not as a token gesture, but as a means to bolster the future performance and profitability of their businesses,” added Kelly.

Some companies are making strides, including Kleenex and Huggies producer Kimberly Clark, which features five women on its senior leadership team. Diageo and food giant General Mills have seven women on its executive committees, while L’Oréal has five. Other companies feature a female chief executive, such as PepsiCo and UK-bases retail insights company IGD.


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