It would be totally understandable to think that after nine years, our Top Women in Grocery awards program might have lost its luster or faded into obscurity. Looking back on it now, I’ll candidly admit that some of us were initially inclined to agree.
As it turns out, of course, nothing could be further from the reality which portrays another magnum opus — Latin for “great work” — from this year’s gallery of grocery masterpieces, fittingly entwined with an impressive pool of achievers from all facets of the industry, whom we’ve steadfastly urged to keep on keepin’ on.
Long before formal movements were established to encourage and empower women to lean in and step up, Top Women in Grocery served as a tenacious catalyst trumpeting the fact that in an increasingly competitive marketplace, female decision-makers are an inherent, advantageous asset that progressive organizations are astutely aware can’t be ignored.
All the same, despite what the contents of our annual June issue endeavor to illustrate — namely, that gender diversity isn’t merely a nice thing to have, but instead a strategic advantage on all fronts — the male-dominated retail food business, while undeniably in the process of transforming, remains especially evident in chief executive- and corporate board-level positions.
Accordingly, two salient points resonate profoundly when contemplating the critical contributions of the women profiled within the pages of this issue: 1) Companies that lack at least one influential woman in a principal, top-executive position — let alone on multiple upper rungs of the corporate ladder — do so at their own peril, 2) Ditto for companies that neglect to celebrate and publicly recognize their exceptional women leaders as part of their employer-of-choice bragging rights.
To be sure, the mission we commenced upon a decade ago to applaud Top Women champions as the focal point f the nation’s most renowned trade media brand has categorically stood the test of time. And this year’s exceptional contingent of inductees is proof positive of their “works of lasting value, which deserve to be celebrated,” as Bridget Goldschmidt, our indispensible managing editor, writes in the feature’s preface found on page 24.
Indeed, from Renaissance masters and executive restorers, to emerging achievers and up-and-coming architects, the individual brushstrokes painted by each of this year’s honorees collectively create a luminous oeuvre mirroring the critical skill sets women bring to the table in the areas of strong emotional intelligence (EQ), astute self-awareness, empathy, humility and steadfastness. While supply chain intricacies increasingly become more complex, these same innate attributes will be all the more critical, as repeatedly affirmed by top business experts from around the globe.
On a personal note, Top Women in Grocery is a genuine labor of love and an abiding source of pride for the entire Progressive Grocer/Stagnito Business Media family — encompassing editorial, sales and marketing, senior management, events, and creative/production — all of whom give their all to bring this beneficial program to life each year.
For that reason, we’re sincerely gratified by the shared enthusiasm revealed in the uplifting, imaginative messages found within this issue from some of the industry’s most influential players, which earn extra applause from our valiant creative director, Bill Antkowiak. “All of the congratulatory ads demonstrate the heartfelt appreciation their employers have for these talented women,” says Antkowiak, who offers “a special call-out to Hy-Vee, which once again delivered another exceptionally creative effort in saluting their Top Women (page 32), and Door to Door Organics (page 89), whose inventive ad also caught my eye.”
It’s a privledge to congratulate each and every one of our 2015 Top Women exemplars, whose achievements are not only extraordinary, but also highly inspirational.
Long before formal movements were established to encourage and empower women to lean in and step up, Top Women in Grocery served as a tenacious catalyst trumpeting the fact that in an increasingly competitive marketplace, female decision-makers are advantageous assets.