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News & Blogs: Organization Transformation

Who are the 'Rosies' in your workplace?

Monday, August 03, 2015  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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By Vicki Schwartz

Rosie the Riveter has always intrigued me. Representing the thousands of women who joined the workforce during World War II, she is one of my most admired female figures. Although I know she is not a real person, she I believe she lives on today in our workplaces.

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This month, The Schwan Food Company is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Schwan’s Women’s Network. Born out of a chance meeting in a horse barn at a 4-H event in Yellow Medicine County in Minnesota 10 years ago, the internal women’s network has grown to more than 300 members and now serves as an advocate for gender diversity and diversity as a whole for the people of Schwan.

I remember the beginning like it was yesterday. Two of my female colleagues and I believed there was a need to bring a stronger voice to the company. We bumped into a few challenges, but tenacity and persistence helped bring the network to life. To be taken seriously, we established a charter and bylaws that continue to govern the network today.

As an all-volunteer organization, The Schwan's Women's Network has had its ups and downs, but we are stronger than we have ever been. Our business case for diversity in the workplace is strong and fully supported by our leadership team.

I'm proud to share some of our accomplishments:

  • Mentoring circles for mid-career women are in their third year and we've kicked off specialized mentoring circles, including "Women in Sales," led by Schwan’s Consumer Brands President Kevin McAdams. 
  • Last winter we hosted our first-ever senior women’s breakfast, which resulted in an "Executive Women" mentoring circle led by CFO Robin Galloway and Senior Vice President of Product Innovation and Development Stacey Fowler Meittunen. The circle helps senior female leaders connect and align their strategies.
  • We teamed with the Schwan’s Young Professionals Network for the second year to offer mentoring circles for early career professionals. 
  • We continue to host educational opportunities by leveraging the Network of Executive Women’s Leadership Academy at all of our locations throughout the United States. Our members also participate in national and local NEW events and Women’s Foodservice Forum events.

Our group's ultimate goal is to ensure mentoring is available to every woman and anyone here at The Schwan Food Company.

The board of the Schwan's Women's Network has grown from a small group of women talking about gender diversity to a board of men and women advocating and supporting gender diversity.

As we look to the future, it is clear that women will continue to be a growing force in the workplace. I believe there is no better time to look at ourselves in the mirror and allow the "Rosie" within each of us to come out.

Our workplaces are counting on us to stand up and help bring the movement to them — a collaborative, authentic environment where everyone has an opportunity to build an incredible career while advancing the success of our companies.

Are you ready to bring Rosie to life in your workplace? Together we can make a difference.

Vicki Schwartz is a founder of the Schwan's Women's Network. She serves as vice president of customer supply services for Schwan’s Consumer Brands and is an active member of NEW Twin Cities.

Views expressed in signed blogs and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its officers, Board members and sponsors.

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