Word from our Executive Director

2016 | A Year in Review
With 2017 upon us, we remind ourselves of what we achieved together in 2016 and the difference we make as members of the LEAD Network. Over the past year, we have joined forces with passion to attract and advance diversity in Consumer Goods & Retail. Here are some of the highlights:

True to the vision of a diverse workforce where both men and women are enabled to contribute their full potential and lead Consumer Products & Retail organisations, the LEAD Network began 2016 with 700 members and the launch of its job bank initiative.

February marked the launch of the monthly newsletter, with its first article featuring a study of over 22,000 publicly traded companies in 91 countries from the Petersen Institute for International titled Economics – Business Gender Diversity Solved. In the same month LEAD Inspirational Journey – Tough Love is Essential to Career Development featured Sandra MacQuillan, LEAD Advisory Board member, Senior Vice President & Chief Supply Chain Officer – Kimberly-Clark. 

Spain and UK introduced their first LEAD Chapters while Turkey jump started a series of monthly breakfasts, the first featuring Angela Cretu, AVON GM Turkey and VP of Middle East and Africa. Ahold embraced gender diversity in March by celebrating International Women’s Day with the LEAD Network.

As the LEAD Advisory Board convened in Madrid to work on the LEAD Plan for 2016, the international non-profit organization – GS1 opened its doors to Germany’s first LEAD Chapter. The Education Committee led by Adriana Ross-Maugourd – Director of Change and Transformation – METRO piloted the mentoring programme for LEAD Partners and Sanja Jevđenijević, VP of Human Resources and Organizational Development at Delhaize in Serbia took on the role of Project Champion of LEAD’s first skill building programme dedicated to the Female Store Manager.

The Turkey Chapter establishes a Chapter framework, where members committ to leading as role models for Consumer Products & Retail companies in Turkey. May also featured LEAD charter member – Marja Dracmanis, European Deployment Program Leader, Strategy Deployment Department at Mars Petcare Europe as she shared her experience leading a diverse team of strategy deployment experts.

Olaf Koch – Chairman of the Management Board of METRO AG interviewed with us, pointing out clearly how diversity helps companies evolve faster despite growing interdependencies by moving away from monolithic thinking and fast track simplicism. June also marked the second UK Chapter get-together at Ernst & Young in Birmingham. 

Janet Lung Standing, Global SSD Director Dairy Ingredients at Danone is interviewed about what reinforced her passion for gender parity at WEPs 2016. The annual event Business Partners for Gender Equality: Multipliers for Development came at a momentous time after the launch of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Veronika Pountcheva, Global Director – Corporate Responsibility, METRO and member of the LEAD Advisory Board shared her inspirational journey with us as one of many in the LEAD Inspirational Journeys Series.

August began with Johnson & Johnson announcing a long term partnership with The LEAD Network. Germany held its second Chapter event hosted in Düsseldorf by Sipgate based on the theme “Mischen is Possible” and Hanneke Faber – Chief E-Commerce and Innovation Officer and Member of the Executive Committee, Ahold Delhaize shared insights on attracting, promoting and advancing women to senior leadership positions in the same month. 

Dr. Ilham Kadri, President Diversey Care, Vice President & Officer Sealed Air shared about her journey to leadership featured in LEAD Inspiration Journeys. LEAD member Elaine Parr, EY Partner, Consumer Products & Retail Leader for EMEIA shares about EY’s programme Women Fast Forward. 

October highlights a milestone for the LEAD Network with an overwhelming response to its annual conference – Diversity Drives Innovation, hosted at METRO’s global headquarters in Düsseldorf. With representation from 17 countries and 50 companies our audience took away with them a strong sense of passion for our mission. The report “Success in Store – Lessons from Leading Female Store Managers” is published.

On the 15th of November, over 80 women and men from the CPG & Retail industry gathered at the Costco offices in Getafe, Madrid for the LEAD Network’s Spain Chapter event. The Marketing Committee also released the first part in a three part series – Gender Parity Musings in the Workplace, consisting of water cooler narrative and gender research on the daily struggles women face seeking opportunities to develop.

In December we welcomed strategic partner Unilever Food Solutions to the LEAD Network to join hands in advancing women in Consumer Products & Retail. Shortly after, at the Nabarro LLP offices in London, LEAD UK’s last chapter event for the year was hosted. 30 women from CPG and Retail met to affirm the importance of being champions of the LEAD Network’s mission in their own companies.

Dear Members of the LEAD Network,

In 2016, we raised the bar not just for ourselves but also the Consumer Goods & Retail sector in Europe by walking side by side with companies that have embarked with us on our journey to advance diversity in the workplace. It is with gratitude and encouragement that I look back on our accomplishments:

  • Milestone of one thousand three hundred members – women and men who are passionate about the mission of the LEAD Network
  • Strong governance of 66 committee members who volunteer their time to develop our member services and programmes
  • Four Local Chapters established in Spain, UK, Germany and Turkey offering networking activities for members at a regional level
  • Nine companies involved in the LEAD Mentorship Pilot Programme “Connecting, sharing and developing female talent for our industry”
  • LEAD Inspirational Journeys Series – with regular videos and articles to inspire you
  • Female Store Manager Skill Building project launched with participation of Albert Heijn, ASDA, Carrefour, Costco Wholesale Spain, Delhaize, ICA, Makro, METRO, Sonae, John Lewis Partnership and Waitrose.
  • LEAD Gender Diversity Scorecard Project launched to benchmark the progress of the advancement of women in senior executive positions in the retail and consumer goods sector in Europe
  • LEAD Partners Programme – including the support of Ahold Delhaize, EY, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, METRO, PepsiCo, Unilever, The Coca-Cola Company, CostCo Wholesale, Kalypso, Kimberly-Clark, Sealed Air Diversey Care, TCC
  • LEAD Conference 2016 “Diversity Drives Innovation”– the LEAD Committee has developed a top notch conference programme with 185 participants and 22 speakers who hosted an Innovation Workshop, interactive breakouts and plenary sessions on the 6th and 7th of October in Düsseldorf.

As we continue to affect change, I look forward to your contagious energy that is helping the community grow and succeed.

Thank you for making 2016 yet another remarkable year for the LEAD Network.

Sharon Jeske