Highlights from the 2017 LEAD Lustrum Network Event “Embracing Change: Transformation through Diversity”

2nd & 3rd Nov 2017 in Amsterdam

The 2017 LEAD Lustrum Network Event “Embracing Change: Transformation through Diversity” was held on 2nd & 3rd November in Amsterdam. Retail and CPG professionals from 23 countries and 73 companies attended. LEAD’s Lustrum Network Event was dedicated to the topic of how Retail & CPG companies in transition can benefit from a gender diverse workforce. This year’s event focused on shared learning around how the digital era can be a catalyst for change; presenting women with a unique opportunity to help shape the future of the Retail & CPG industry. The two-day action packed agenda set the frame for LEAD members to discover how they as individuals can be set up for success during this time of change enabled by digital innovation.

300 Delegates joined the sold-out conference. They came for Inspiration, to share and learn Industry Best Practices for improving gender diversity and inclusion in their businesses, and to enhance their professional networks. This year, 17% of the attendees were men. Companies with top ranking attendance were Ahold Delhaize, P&G and The Coca-Cola Company. Among the 300 participants there was a balanced industry spread for both Retail and CPG.

The conference opened on Thursday with a highly interactive digital innovation tour demonstrating the ‘art of the possible’ of selected digital technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Machine Learning Analytics. Examples of how organisations like Instock and Metro AG are applying digital to tackle issues such as food waste and improving the customer experience provided a window into the real-world possibilities of digital. Thursday evening was kicked off with a fun and interactive professional networking best practices session providing practical tips and tricks for productive networking practices. The evening was capped off by a warm welcome from Dick Boer, President and CEO of Ahold Delhaize. LEAD Partner awards were presented and for the first time, the LEAD Gender Diversity Scorecard results. Swedish retailer ICA and P&G took the top spots in the rankings table.

LEAD’s first CEO Roundtable took place, dedicated to the topic of “Transformation through Diversity”, hosted by Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Integration Officer of Ahold Delhaize. Participants discussed how to better engage men in gender diversity initiatives and shared their organisation’s current practices and vision regarding gender diversity. All recognised much has been achieved but there is still a long way to go. As a commitment to furthering the momentum, straw model for a pledge to the objective of advancing gender diversity and inclusion was reviewed and discussed. The pledge commits to meaningfully accelerate gender parity and drive inclusion in the Retail & CPG sector in Europe. It includes key performance indicators and the expected gains to be made by 2020.

Friday’s plenary started by firmly establishing that empowerment of women is critical for organisational growth and considerations for advancing the profile of diverse leadership in the executive and board. This was accomplished through presentations from Frans Muller, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Integration Officer of Ahold Delhaize and Muhtar Kent, Chairman of the Board for The Coca-Cola Company followed by a facilitated discussion. Each shared their perspectives on their organisation’s journey towards growth and the importance of having the improvement of gender diversity as a key pillar for growth.

The day’s 9 break-out sessions provided a variety of channels for learning and dialogue. Topics from ‘Are Men Embracing the Diversity Agenda’ to ‘Transformational Career Planning in Supply Chain’ provided a platform for participants to share best practice for gender diversity and challenge one another to improve the diversity platform at their respective organisations. Further learning and best practice for digital and innovation was provided through the ‘Design Thinking’ workshop where participants were able to learn new ways of delivering innovation thru Agile product development techniques; and the ‘Bricks to Clicks’ session presented an eye-opening view of how digital disruption might change the face of retail and the consumer experience.

By all accounts of the participants, the 2017 LEAD conference was an amazing two days and well worth the investment of time. Many thanks to the leaders of the LEAD Network, the volunteers on the LEAD Conference Committee, our host Ahold Delhaize, and the city of Amsterdam for providing such a wonderful setting for an extremely productive gathering.