Network of Executive Women Urges Action on Management Diversity

CHICAGO -- The supermarket industry continues to fall behind others in management diversity, according to a white paper issued by Network of Executive Women here.

The report finds that the food production, food wholesaling, and food and drug store segments all rank below the Fortune 500 in gender diversity, with only 7.1 percent, 11 percent, and 11.7 percent, respectively, of corporate officers positions held by women.

Other consumer products and retail segments fare better: Women hold 15.4 percent of corporate officer positions in the food/consumer products category; in general merchandising, 18.2 percent; beverages, 22.5 percent; and tobacco, 29.7 percent.

"Management diversity is a business imperative, especially in light of the fact that three-quarters of the American population and nearly two-thirds of the nation's work force [comprises] women and minorities," said Kimberly Betts, NEW's president, and communications director of Ahold USA. "Imagine the talent and creativity lost by when women employees don't reach their full potential…gender diversity could be worth billions to American business."

NEW's 1,500-word report, "Leveraging Management Diversity for Competitive Advantage," is the first in a series of white papers being released to promote diversity in the consumer products and retail industry. A white paper focused on women of color is currently on press, and a third report is being developed highlighting the importance of networking and mentoring, NEW said.
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