The Women in Snacks (WinS) Network has launched to drive leadership development for women snack industry executives. To advance this mission, SNAC International, whose board of directors unanimously voted to approve the rollout of the initiative during the trade organization’s recent 42nd Annual Executive Leadership Forum (ELF), has chartered a steering committee of male and female member volunteers.
Committee members hail from such companies as Land O’Lakes, Amplify Snack Brands, Utz Quality Foods, PepsiCo-Frito-Lay North America, Herr Foods and Wise Foods.
At this year’s ELF, which took place Sept. 27-29 in Amelia Island, Fla., SNAC saw a record number of female attendees and an 80 percent rise in female attendance from each of the previous four years. Additionally, there were three female speakers at the event – the most in the forum’s history.
“This program seeks to foster growth and professional development for women in the snack industry by empowering them to advance, so we see greater diversity at the executive level,” said Elizabeth Avery, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based SNAC. “The good news is that our rising leaders are well diversified. Fifty percent of the attendees from our recently held Emerging Leaders Program 2.0 were women. We need to help them continue their career trajectory so that one day our ELF attendees are equally well balanced.”
The launch of WinS began with a presentation by Sarah Alter, CEO of the Chicago-based Network of Executive Women, who stressed the importance of having a leadership team with diverse perspectives and discussed barriers to female managers’ access to the executive level. At an ELF keynote session, Indra Nooyi, now former CEO and current chairman of Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo, emphasized that the snack industry must work together, regardless of gender, to continue to grow.
“Our goal is to make sure this is not a one-off – that it is supported by men and women alike,” noted Jolie Weber, CEO of Berwick, Pa.-based Wise Foods and SNAC chairman, who, along with Avery, occupies the association’s two top leadership roles. “We want to create female leaders by providing opportunities to showcase talent.”
In collaboration with the WinS Steering Committee, SNAC plans to offer annual opportunities for the WinS Network to meet and establish connections, including at its annual trade show, SNAXPO19, scheduled for March 31-April 2, 2019, in Orlando Fla.