The LEAD Network Event “Diversity & Inclusion: Doing, Not Trying” was held in London on the 15th and 16th of November, with 414 delegates from 23 countries and 102 companies.

The 2018 LEAD event, was both a celebration of the incredible progress made over the past six years, raising LEAD membership to over 4,000 passionate individuals, as well as a call to action for all that still needs to be done in order to achieve true diversity and inclusion across the CPG and Retail sectors. The theme of “Doing, Not Trying” felt particularly apt at this moment when some organisations within the LEAD network are very close to achieving true diversity at the leadership level and can share actionable strategies on how they do it.

The programme was kicked off by Helayne Angelus and Sharon Jeske who outlined four strategic barriers to female advancement. These are the lack of female role models, the need for more executive-level sponsors, giving women stronger networking skills, and encouraging them to apply for more senior positions.  The following days agenda gave insight into how these could be tackled through a series of presentations, break-out sessions, and roundtable forums. It was an energising and inspiring two days with 414 delegates, together with a common purpose.

The quality and passion of the speakers at this year’s event was particularly high – for example, the Right Honourable Lord Price shared his passion for diversity which was evidenced through his tenure leading the John Lewis partnership as well as the research he has undertaken which demonstrates the strong connection between inclusiveness and business performance – indeed, the business in the top quartile for inclusiveness outperform their peers on business metrics by an average of 15%.

Senior leaders such as Aline Santos, Marketing EVP of Unilever, and Tamara Rogers, Head of EMEA at GSK, shared their own career experiences as young female leaders in highly personal and thought-provoking sessions. We saw, through their experiences, how the make-up of leadership boards has changed, and how much progress has been made to shift the business culture. We also heard from them how important it is for young female leaders to have the confidence to stand-up, feel the fear, and go for the big roles!

We are lucky to have so many corporate Partners; the leadership of some of Europe’s largest retailers and manufacturers were on hand. As an example, Kari Daniels, CEO of Tesco Ireland, outlined the real progress that Tesco is making in developing a fully inclusive team; Giorgio Siracusa, Vice President of HR for P&G Europe, also included a section on how P&G encourage men to learn about and avoid unconscious gender bias.

This year there were no less than 11 breakout discussion sessions, covering a huge range of topics across three broad areas of ‘Personal Development, Skills and Capabilities, and Diversity and Inclusion. The sessions, led by practitioners in the industry, were interactive and generated a lot of idea sharing. At the end of the sessions, key actions and learnings were taken away by many of the participants to integrate into their own businesses.

In addition to the breakout sessions, there were also six functional breakouts covering all key business functions, such as HR, Finance, Sales, Marketing, Supply Chain, and Technology. We looked at each function in depth and discussed the specific challenges of making this function fully inclusive.

Friday closed with a look at LEAD’s ambitions for 2019 and beyond, which is quite simply to be the best and most trusted organisation championing Diversity and Inclusion in our industry. Judging by the energy and enthusiasm of the members, both individuals and corporations, LEAD Network is on the right track, and we are already looking forward to continuing the journey in 2019.

It remains only to extend grateful thanks to all the volunteers on the LEAD conference committee, our corporate supporters and all the participants, speakers and guests, who made this such a productive and inspiring event and who continue to believe that we can achieve great things if we work together and DO, rather than just try!

Have a look here (LEAD Network Event 2017 – Executive Summary) at last year’s conference executive summary to get a flavor of the event.

New conference executive summary will be published soon!

Sharon Jeske, Executive Director, LEAD Network, explains why the LEAD Network has chosen “Diversity and Inclusion: Doing not Trying” as the theme for the LEAD Network Event 2018.

Click here to read her full interview.

Read our blog

Doing not Trying

by Vân Nguyen
Manager Business Development | Consumer Products & Retail at EY

If you have any questions, please contact our help desk at conference@lead-eu.net