Pioneering women in the industry take on the question of gender inequality in the natural foods workplace, and what companies can do to achieve parity. If nothing changes about current culture and policies, women are projected to hold 15 percent of executive positions at participating companies over the next 10 years.

1 Min Read
Women in the natural foods industry—where are they?

"When the male founders walk in the room, when the male VCs walk in the room, they feel confidence multiplied. We need to have that same swagger. There is nobody more badass than the person who created Smartfood and Annie's."

—Carla Vernon, General Mills

Part 1: Not just a women's issue


  • People need to see others like themselves in possible leadership positions. 

  • Women need more sponsors, and sponsors are different than mentors. Sponsors find opportunities for promising individuals and give them resources they need to succeed in them. 



Part 2: What companies can do


  • Be flexible, especially in scheduling. As long as the work is getting done, and getting done well, companies should accommodate what their employees need.

  • Recognize individuals with potential—particularly in sourcing and the technical aspects of the supply chain, which tend to be very male-dominated—and position them to get the experience and credibility they need to then be promoted to positions of power. 

  • The natural products industry needs more female founders and female financiers. 



Part 3: Lead by example


  • Help yourself and help others. PIE: Perform, good image and exposure. You need to be able to talk about your accomplishments, and be comfortable with it, and get out there and network. 

  • Learn to advocate for yourself, and to push back. 


This session—The Road to Gender Parity: Supporting Women’s Leadership for a Better Workplace—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2018. Click "download" below to access the presentation slides.

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