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NEW, FMI, WFF and Catalyst partner for progress

Panel of women leaders

NEW, Food Marketing Institute, Women’s Foodservice Forum and Catalyst leaders came together for the first time to discuss gender equality at the NEW Leadership Summit 2018, Sept. 27 in Chicago.

“No one person, no one company or organization can advance all women to the degree they should be. It’s going to take all of us to make any progress,” NEW President & CEO Sarah Alter said during the “Partners in Progress” panel discussion, which included WFF President & CEO Hattie Hill, FMI President & CEO Leslie Sarasin and Catalyst Vice President Emily Troiano. The discussion was moderated by NEW Summit Conference Designer Tara Jaye Frank, president and CEO of TJF Career Modeling.

Among the discussion’s highlights were:

On women supporting other women

“The narrative that women won’t help other women? Leave it all behind,” Troiano said. “We all have unique value.”

On the need for systemic change

“If the workplace culture and systems don’t set up women for success, even the most amazing female leaders won’t advance [gender equality]," Alter said.

On hiring women leaders

“We have to do everything we can so that the food industry is viewed as a desirable place to be, with opportunities for them,” Sarasin said.

On male allies

“Organizations are not doing enough to help men understand they are part of [the gender equality equation] and when they benefit from it,” Troiano said. ‘It’s not a zero-sum game.”

“There is a genuine interest within companies for creating opportunities for women and women of color in leadership positions, but they become frustrated because as they ID up-and-comers in their companies and mentor them and help them prepare for the next position, they are disappointed when that woman leaves the company,” Sarasin said. “We need to think about ways we can continue to encourage men to mentor women despite the disappointment when someone who is prepared to do the next role is no longer there to do it.”

On confidence and advancing to the next level

“Women can have 80 to 90 percent of the skills in the job description and not take the role,” Hill said. “Men can have less than 50 percent and step up and take the job. Because they know someone will be there to coach them and say, ‘This is how you walk through this path.’”