The Growing Trend of Women Occupying Executive Roles in the FMCG Industry
By Shantanu Saha, Vice President, Reliance Retail, 0
Inclusivity and Diversity seem to be the buzzwords in most Corporate HR circles in recent times. We have sprouted ‘inclusivity trainers’ by the dozen, mostly men, who have only household examples to share, to the guffaws of the mainly men dominated audience, undergoing the ‘training’ on how to give women a chance!! The emerging realization that the so called ‘hard and painful’ jobs within the male dominated industries like Retail, FMCG, Automobile Manufacturing and others, are better done by women, is a welcome change as is the realization that it’s the woman that gives birth and not the man.
A decade ago, the only organisations that were producing women leaders were the banks and a few IT companies. Today, it seems to be the turn of the FMCG sector. Whether its sales, branding/product management, supply chain/logistics, or product innovation, the Indian FMCG sector has become a career choice for many women, and they are making a difference. FMCG and Retail are amongst the few sectors where the ratio of women employees is growing. Apart from the obvious economic and work life balance needs that this sector provides, women professionals are simpatico with the sector’s work culture and work needs, which are purely consumer focussed.
Why are women making that positive difference? The
•Empathy: That’s No.1 on my list. No one is better than a woman to figure-out what a customer wants. After that, you get your answers.
•They are natural design thinkers, innovators and problem solvers.
•Multitasking: If you are a man, don’t even try to mention it as one of your strengths!
•Grounded/Practical: She will tell you like it is. What works and what doesn’t work. She will not try and be politically correct or tow the party line in the board room.
•Ethics: It comes naturally to them.
There needs to be a bold push in how we address engrained structural problems and find solutions that will ensure women flourish and become tomorrow’s managers, board members and CEOs
The top jobs at global FMCG brands such as P&G, Kraft Heinz and PepsiCo have women in Division/Country Head, CEO or Chair positions. Young women now have role models. It can be done and is a welcome change. While various published lists, researches and statistics point to encouraging changes in attitude, as an industry, there needs to be a bold push in how we address engrained structural problems and find solutions that will ensure women flourish and become tomorrow’s managers, board members and CEOs.
Businesses need to display the will and empathy to ensure that the work culture is rooted in equality and fairness. It means going beyond ‘programs’ and mere lip-service to ensuring gender parity. That means being flexible, compassionate and innovative in how we approach equality in the workplace. Otherwise, we are all selling our businesses short, and it is our customers that will suffer the most.