First “Women in Wholesale” conference hailed a success by its organisers

Wholesale’s top female bosses and up-and-coming talent attended the inaugural Women in Wholesale conference this week (October 18), which took place at 1 Wimpole Street in London.

The all-female delegates, 60% of whom were wholesalers, attended the educational networking conference, including representatives from Booker, Bidvest, Bestway, JJ Food Service, Palmer & Harvey, Country Range, Today’s Group, Confex and more.

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) announced on the day that  50% of its training grants would go to women by 2018 to support the progression of women seeking careers in wholesale.

CEO of FWD, James Bielby said, ““We are in favour of positive discrimination in an industry which should attract, encourage, promote and invest in talented and committed people, regardless of gender.”

Event organiser Elit Rowland said: “It’s an unbelievably exciting time to be a woman working in wholesale and a woman working in any industry for that matter. Our speakers provided delegates with some inspiring, actionable advice. The next step is to produce a Women in Wholesale report, which will give businesses solid goals to benchmark against.”

Gilly Hunt, marketing manager at Confex said, “I found WiW engaging and inspiring and believe that the event will continue to grow. Greater awareness will result in more women working to gain more responsible positions.”

Julie Burden, marketing director at Savage & Whitten said, “All of the speakers were excellent and I learned a lot. I certainly feel very motivated as I return to the office this morning! I would definitely recommend my colleagues to attend the WiW 2017.”

Rebecca Hirst, assistant purchasing manager at Fairway Foodservice said, “I found the conference very inspiring! I’ve realised that there are many differences between men and women in business and I’ve promised to put myself forward for opportunities more often.”

Speakers on the day included Debbie Robinson, Spar UK MD; Julie Tidy, award-winning depot manager of Bidvest’s most profitable branch in Cannock; and Carolyn McMenemie, Bestway’s first female board member. The guest speaker was journalist and former editor of The Guardian’s Women in Leadership supplement Harriet Minter.

The conference was jointly chaired by Coral Rose, managing director of foodservice specialist Country Range and Clare Bocking, sales director EMEA of McCormick UK.

We’ll have more in the November issue of Wholesale News.

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