Women occupy just 14.9% of senior management roles in retail and FMCG, study finds

A new study by ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine has found that female executives are seriously under-represented at the top level in the grocery retail and FMCG industries, with women occupying fewer than one in six positions on executive committees*.

The study, released on International Women’s Day (March 8), found that 85.1% of the individuals on the executive committees at 150 retail and FMCG businesses were male, while just 14.9% were female.

In total, just four of the businesses featured in the study have an executive committee in which 50% or more are women (2.67% of companies).

Some 13 companies in the study had an executive committee in which a third or more are women (8.6% of companies), while 34 companies have an executive committee in which a quarter or more are women (22.67% of companies).

Meanwhile, 55 companies featured in the study had an executive committee that featured no women (36.67%).

“Within the European grocery business, women are hugely important, as the most important consumers targeted by retailers and brands,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine. “However, at the top level – at retailers, FMCG businesses and third party suppliers – women are significantly underrepresented, as this study demonstrates.

“On this, International Women’s Day, leading retailers and suppliers should take a step back, and examine ways to improve their gender balance – not as a token gesture, but as a means to bolster the future performance and profitability of their businesses.”

Notable companies with a significant number of female executives include Kimberly-Clark, Diageo  L’Oréal  General Mills, Swedish paper products manufacturer SCA, Imperial Tobacco, PepsiCo, Mondelez, Glanbia and the IGD.

The study looked at a cross section of 150 businesses across the global grocery retail and FMCG businesses. The 150 companies included in the study featured a total of 1,354 executive committee members. 1,152 of these were men (85.1%), and 202 were women (14.9%).

Last month, a new organisation, Women in Wholesale,  was sert up to “nurture and support existing talent while inspiring and motivating newcomers. Delegates will be able to pick up key management, leadership, sales and marketing skills”. It will be holding its first conference in London in October.

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