5 Questions with Denise Inmon
Monday, October 10, 2011
Trade Director, Yoplait
highly experienced and talented mothers in the workplace, we’re...closer to our consumers.”
Denise Inmon has worked for General Mills for 10
years, serving in various roles of increasing responsibility and accumulating
broad customer and brand experience. She now serves as trade director of the
company’s’ Yoplait division. Inmon is a mentor for a number of young women in
General Mills’ sales force and is the company’s Network of Executive Women
ambassador. She also serves on the NEW Twin Cities committee. The married mother of three young children is
involved in her daughter’s sports, Girl Scouts and school activities.
What is General Mills' Great Manager Initiative?
The Great Manager Initiative is a high priority,
innovative initiative designed to develop the skills and abilities of all
managers throughout the divisions, functions and plants. It is a long-term
cultural reorientation of the company emphasizing the importance of involved
leadership in employee development and companywide productivity. Through analysis of climate survey data, the company identified three
common characteristics that distinguish a great manager – they invest in
employees to help them succeed, they value employees as partners and they
stretch employees to make a difference. Inspired by the impact that great
managers can have on employees, such as higher loyalty to the company and
better engagement with their job, the company developed a program to train and
engage all leaders to become better managers.
promotes flexible schedules, grants 26 job-guaranteed weeks off for a birth or
adoption and, at its headquarters' building, offers an on-site child care
center for children from six to 16 months old,
plus discounts at 63 near-site child-care facilities. Why do these
family-friendly practices make good business sense?
Providing flexibility and resources as part of work/life balance allows
us to recruit and retain talented employees who look for support in
accomplishing career goals as their lives change. Although we receive a lot of
recognition as a great company for working mothers, our flexibility and
work/life resources are valued by employees at any stage of life – a new dad, a
recent college graduate or someone nearing retirement. It’s also important for General Mills employees to reflect diverse consumers
around the world, which include people with different ethnic and cultural
heritages, as well as genders. By keeping highly experienced and talented
mothers in the workplace, we’re fundamentally closer to our consumers. In terms
of the on-site family-friendly perks we offer, we’ve found that they result in
higher productivity and increased innovation and focus and allow employees to
spend more time with their families in the evenings and on weekends.
In what ways does
General Mills strive to help women, in particular, advance their careers?
General Mills deliberately and proactively develops talented women for
leadership roles and we believe that representation of women in leadership
positions at General Mills is very important to our success. And that’s true
across all of our functions, whether it’s marketing, IT, finance or supply
chain. In fact, there’s a statistic that companies with the highest number of
executive women had a 35-percent higher return on equity and a 34-percent
higher return to shareholders compared to those with few women at the top. Created more than 10 years ago, the Women’s Leadership Network is a
formal way for women to exchange ideas with management on women’s issues in the
workplace. The Women in Leadership group, which serves as an umbrella group for all 14
General Mills women’s networks, strives to be the voice of women to the
company’s senior leadership. It also stresses development of women leaders
through the Women’s Forum and annual speaker series.
How does General Mills’ mentoring
programs are dedicated to developing high-potential female employees capable of
reaching the officer level. Executive
Co-Mentoring is an 18-month program that enables director-level women
and people of color to share from the perspectives and experiences of senior
leaders. Menttium 100 pairs
high-potential mid-level women with leaders outside the company.
What are some
real-world results of these policies, networks and programs?
We take great
pride in the fact that the majority of our U.S. retail businesses are led by
women – which reflects that we’re serious about supporting women in pursuing their
career goals as their lives change. The family-friendly
opportunities have helped me, personally, in many ways. I have been lucky
enough to take advantage of paid-maternity leaves for each of my three children
and have also utilized flex work schedules as I transitioned back to work.
Additionally, our vast array of remote communications technology including
Office Communicator and Live Meeting have allowed me to effectively work when I
am not in the office and to also operate a high-functioning team, remotely at