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CEO Sarah Alter outlines NEW’s ‘daring future’

Sarah Alter at mic

Network of Executive Women President and CEO Sarah Alter challenged industry executives to do more to advance women’s leadership at the NEW Executive Leaders Forum, Aug. 2 in Santa Barbara, California. More than 300 senior industry executives attended.

“Gender diversity drives business results, builds stronger teams and connects retailers and consumer goods companies to the female consumers who fuel their success,” Alter said. “Women’s leadership expands perspectives, inspires innovation and enriches our cultures.”

Alter said in the next two years, NEW will focus on six key strategies:

Industry best practices

NEW will harness its communities and technology to foster best practice sharing across companies and leverage ideas from other industries. “Progress is being made at many companies in many areas, but these best practices are far from consistent,” Alter said. “If we tap into our collective wisdom, we can lift our entire industry and make it a leader in gender diversity.”

Research and insights

The Network will increase its support for organizations by developing company- and industry-specific benchmarks and insights, plus identify solutions to better support women through career pivot points. “We must identify new paths to senior leadership, develop fresh insights, benchmark performance and measure results,” Alter said. “Yesterday’s solutions don’t apply today, so we need this information continuously, in real time.”


NEW will continue its outspoken support of women’s leadership in our industry, Alter said. “We have a strong industry voice. We have nearly 75,000 NEW and regional social media followers — more than any other industry association. Last year, our industry media and PR reached nearly 1.8 million.”

Leadership development for women

NEW leadership development includes 150 regional events, two national conferences and three signature learning programs, all based on the NEW Career Accelerator Model. Developed with the Center for Creative Leadership, this model identifies the 13 career factors critical to women in our industry.

Signature learning programs include NEW Executive Institute for emerging senior leaders; NEW Rising Stars, designed to support mid-level women; and Career Accelerator Workshops, which bring NEW’s unique learning content to partner companies. All learning programs include 360 assessments, providing candid feedback to help women build relationships, increase their influence and learn the unwritten rules of their corporate cultures.

“Last year NEW learning and events engaged nearly 25,000 industry leaders,” Alter said. “In the coming months and years, NEW will expand our leadership development programs and focus on the career and life pivot points. We will introduce new opportunities and utilize technology to make them available to more leaders.”


NEW’s new website, launched two weeks ago, is easier to use, mobile friendly and packed with relevant content. “The website is a first step in our NEW future — but a big one,” Alter said. “It will help power our insights and benchmarking and serve as a platform for advocacy and outreach. It’s flexible and scalable, and it will grow and change with us.”


NEW has 10,000 members and tens of thousands of regional supporters. More than 1,000 NEW members volunteer in leadership roles in 20 NEW regions, soon to be 22. “In the next five years, we plan to vastly expand this membership to increase our influence and impact,” Alter said. “Our diversity will expand, too, because we are committed to making NEW as inclusive as our industry and the consumers it serves.”

The new website includes a powerful online Community that support collaboration and networking. “Freed from the limits of distance and time, NEW members can form affinity groups with members with similar backgrounds, jobs and interests,” Alter said. “They can ask questions, connect across regions and industries, form their own groups and get the support and networking they need.

“There’s nothing we can’t achieve,” Alter said, “when we dare greatly and work together.”