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.

What is this year’s LEAD Network theme?

For the very first time the LEAD Network has decided to focus on a theme for our entire network throughout the year 2018: “Diversity and Inclusion: Doing Not Trying”. In other words, this overall theme is an umbrella for the LEAD Network and will be addressed not only during our annual LEAD Network Event but also at local chapter events and within our educational programmes. It is all about what are those concrete leading practices, and not only inspiring ideas, that our member companies are using to develop their female talent. With this approach we’re going further than ideas and actually want to look at what you – our members – are doing. And we know that there is not one company that has the answers for everything but we know there are many companies who do one part of the equation very well. So what we are going to do is to learn from those companies that excel when it comes to “doing not trying” to accelerate diversity and inclusion in consumer goods and retail. The end objective is to share the good practices so together we can elevate women in our industry.

Who chose this theme?

The Chair of our LEAD Advisory Board Chair Helayne Angelus, Partner at Kalypso, and her fellow Advisory Board members had a brainstorming session and discussed together what this annual theme would be for the LEAD Network in 2018. They decided it would be a powerful approach to have this overall theme that would be the “glue” for the LEAD Network, bringing together our committees, all the members and Partners, working together with one aim.

Why are you personally so passionate about this theme?

I believe it takes us to a new level where we really look at the practical learnings. We’re taking a deep dive to look at what we can do. We will ask ourselves the hard questions and find our answers together as partners, members, committees and industry leaders. Companies are willing to share their insights and looking for ways on how to elevate women, keeping in mind the specific needs in Retail and CPG. It is really motivating and what’s exciting is that together we can make a difference.

What is the desired outcome of the theme at the end of the year?

We’re building the foundations for a platform for leading practice sharing. How we are going to do that? By tackling our main theme – “Diversity & Inclusion: Doing not Trying” – and actually looking into 4 sub-themes which we think are important to help us reach our goals:

  1. Leadership & Tone from the top
    – Male Champions – how they can help
  2. Strategy & measurements
    – Imbedding Diversity Strategy into the Business Strategy
    – Diversity Accountability: You get what you measure and reward
  3. Gender neutral policies
    – Building a Diverse Pipeline – Helping Women get Crucible Roles
  4. Networks & Training programmes
    – Best Practices on sustainable Affinity Groups

Any last words from you?

We launched our Gender Diversity Scorecard last year, the first-ever survey to measure gender diversity among executives in the European retail and consumer goods industries. On average, it found that women hold 25% of executive positions in this sector in Europe, exceeding the global average of 16%, but still far from gender parity where women account for the majority of customers in our sector. In the retail category, the top-scoring company is Sweden’s ICA Gruppen, which reported 40% female executives. The leading CPG manufacturer is consumer goods group Procter & Gamble, which reported 32% female executives. I’m excited that these companies will be sharing their broader experiences on “how” they got there, what they are doing and why they’ve been so successful.

With this baseline of 25% in mind, the LEAD Network developed a pledge to accelerate gender parity and drive inclusion in the European Retail & CPG value chain. The pledge “Embracing Change: Transformation through Diversity” was developed at the LEAD CEO Roundtable in November 2017, led by Frans Muller, Deputy CEO, Ahold Delhaize. A group of industry CEOs have committed to a significant percentage point increase by 2020 (at least 5%) from their current corporate baselines, collectively increasing the LEAD industry scorecard baseline of 25% and building a plan to achieve gender parity over the next decade by “Doing not Trying”.