Women Occupy Just 14.9% Of Senior Management Roles In Retail And FMCG, Study Finds

A study by ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine has found that female executives are seriously under-represented at the top level in the grocery retail and FMCG industries, with women occupying fewer than one in six positions on executive committees*.

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Fig 1. Percentage of male executives (blue) and female executives (orange) on executive boards at retail grocery and FMCG companies
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Fig. 2 Percentage of retail grocery and FMCG companies that have ‘50% or more’, ‘33% or more’, ‘25% or more’ or no women on their executive teams

The study, released to coincide with International Women's Day, found that 85.1% of the individuals on the executive committees at 150 retail and FMCG businesses were male, while just 14.9% were female.

In total, just four of the businesses featured in the study have an executive committee in which 50% or more are women (2.67% of companies).

Some 13 companies in the study have an executive committee in which a third or more are women (8.6% of companies), while 34 companies have an executive committee in which a quarter or more are women (22.67% of companies).

Meanwhile, 55 companies featured in the study had an executive committee that featured no women (36.67%).

"Within the European grocery business, women are hugely important, as the most important consumers targeted by retailers and brands," said Kevin Kelly, chairman of ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine"However, at the top level - at retailers, FMCG businesses and third party suppliers - women are significantly underrepresented, as this study demonstrates.

"On this, International Women's Day, leading retailers and suppliers should take a step back, and examine ways to improve their gender balance - not as a token gesture, but as a means to bolster the future performance and profitability of their businesses."

Notable companies with a significant number of female executives include Kleenex and Huggies producer Kimberly-Clark (five women on Senior Leadership Team, 62.5%), Diageo (seven women on Executive Committee, 43.75%); Russia's X5 Retail Group (five women on Executive Committee, 38.46%); Swedish retailer Axfood (four women on Executive Committee, 36.36%); cosmetics and haircare brand L’Oréal (five women on Executive Committee, 31.25%), global food giant General Mills (seven women on Executive Committee, 31%) and Swedish paper products manufacturer SCA (six women on Organisation & Management Team, 30%).

A number of companies featured in the study also boasted a female chief executive, including Indra K. Nooyi at PepsiCo,Alison Cooper at Imperial Tobacco, Annikka Hurme at Finnish dairy firm Valio, Joanne Denny-Finch OBE at UK-based retail insights company IGD, Denise M. Morrison at Campbell Soup, Siobhán Talbot at Irish dairy giant Glanbia and Irene Rosenfeld at Mondelez International.

The study looked at a cross section of 150 businesses across the global grocery retail and FMCG businesses. Different terms were used across the study to designate the Executive Committee, including 'Executive Board', 'Senior Management', 'Leadership Team', 'Operating Board' and others, however, for the purposes of this release, we have applied the general term 'Executive Committee'.

The 150 companies included in the study featured a total of 1,354 executive committee members. 1,152 of these were men (85.1%), and 202 were women (14.9%).

Note that for the purposes of this study, no non-executive directors were included in the final numbers.

ESM – The European Supermarket Magazine is Europe’s dedicated magazine for the European grocery sector. With offices in Dublin, Ireland, and Bratislava, Slovakia, ESM is a must-read for senior managers and top-level executives working in the European grocery sector, or supplying the retail industry.