LEAD Network Spain Chapter Event – 15th November 2017
Hosted by Costco, Madrid, Spain

On 15th November, over 80 women and men from the CPG & Retail industry in Spain gathered at the Costco offices in Getafe, Madrid for the LEAD Spain Chapter Event.

Sharon Jeske, Executive Director of LEAD kicked off the event by presenting highlights from a successful year for the LEAD Network, and the Network’s growth since it began as a grassroots movement in 2012 with only 13 members. Today LEAD celebrates having over 1200 members (both women and men) and aims to grow to over 5000 members by 2020. LEAD’s annual conference is seeing a year on year increase in participation of 50%, and by 2020 hopes to welcome over 800 delegates. LEAD is governed by 8 Advisory Board members and there are currently four Local Chapters (Germany, Spain, Turkey and the UK), 55 committee members working as volunteers, eleven supporting Partner companies, a mentorship programme including 16 different mentors and mentees and a female store managers’ skill building programme. Sharon concluded by inviting everyone in the room to become members of the LEAD Network and be a Champion of LEAD’s mission.

Diane Tucci, Vice President, Country Manager, Costco Wholesale Spain shared with the group Costco’s journey to making gender diversity a company priority. Little over ten years ago, Costco invited 100 women to a meeting to understand why women were leaving mid-career. The participants included women still working for company and former employees. The group shared experiences of working as a woman within Costco, why some had left and whether they had tried to come back. From this discussion, Costco began to understand the challenges of “off-ramping” and “on-ramping”, and the obstacles stopping women from reaching management opportunities within their organisation, having noticed that often higher up in the chain there were fewer women and only 11% female store managers. As a result, Costco launched its female leadership programme called “Journeys”, with 3 guiding principles: educating, mentoring and connecting women with people who can help them move up within their career. Today Journeys has 7,254 members (women) and 2,764 advocates (men), and is soon to open to all employees and not just top management. Over 100 events a year are held on diverse topics such as confidence, leadership training and practical training (eg. P&L reviews, merchandising).

In the future, Journeys will continue to provide education and mentoring opportunities, help women build confidence in their careers, help leaders and all employees understand and value differences, help prepare women and fill the pipeline of qualified candidates for future opportunities, and partner with Costco’s Diversity Advisory Council to develop and implement diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Following these presentations, a group of five influential leaders in the retail and consumer sector for Europe participated in a panel interview:

  • Diane Tucci – Vice President, Country Manager, Costco Wholesale Spain
  • Jaime De Jaraiz – President & CEO, LG Electronics España
  • Margarida Neves – Area Managing Director Southern Europe Cluster, Johnson & Johnson Consumer
  • Lililana Rodriguez, International Business Development, Cristalinas América
  • Claudia Pickholz, General Manager Iberia, TCC Global

They gave their personal perspective on a diverse range of questions such as: what is your favourite thing about your job today? What is the principal quality of a successful woman? Do you believe gender equality is worth investing your company’s money in? Due to your work, have you ever given less focus to your family? How do you manage that? How do you balance your personal and professional life? What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? What advantages do women have in business and how do you take advantage of them? Have you experienced discrimination for being a woman in your job and how did you manage it?

The exchange with the audience was lively and many questions came from the participants.

The event concluded with the raffle prize draw with two lucky winners taking home Costco gift baskets, and a time for networking over drinks and food. LEAD would like to extend a huge thank you to the Costco team (and in particular to Diane Tucci, Vice President, Country Manager, Costco Wholesale Spain & Member of the LEAD Advisory Board and Taryn Goodman, IT Manager, Costco Wholesale Spain & LEAD Spain Chapter Vice-Chair) for organising such a successful event, and LEAD’s biggest chapter event to date.