The number of women working at board level in UK retail and foodservice wholesale has increased from 11% to 20% over the past six years, an increase of 82%.

An exclusive Diversity and Inclusion Survey, commissioned by Women in Wholesale (WiW) and conducted by data and digital experts TWC, has investigated the progress made since the launch of the WiW initiative, which supports women working in wholesale with education, networking, and coaching.

The encouraging figures were shared by WiW research partner, TWC, at the WiW Annual Conference last week in London, where more than 250 delegates from wholesalers and their suppliers gathered.

“Diverse organisations grow faster and are more profitable,” said Tanya Pepin, Managing Director at TWC. “That’s why it’s so important to have this industry-specific insight which will help to get some important conversations around diversity and inclusion started in our sector.”

Equal Opportunities Gap

The research also revealed that equal opportunities formed the biggest disparity between male and female responses, with only 57% of females agreeing that “all people can succeed in my organisation”, compared with 80% of men.

Agreement to the same statement was just 50% amongst people with a disability. Meanwhile, 60% of women agreed that that they “trust my organisation to be fair to all employees”, versus 80% of men.

“This ground-breaking study shines a positive light on the progress being made in our sector – as well as helping us to identify where we can improve,” said WiW Founder, Elit Rowland.

The survey findings will inform the WiW 2023 education and discussion programme and TWC will issue a full report of the survey findings via the WiW website in October.

Be the Best You

Last week’s conference saw record attendance, with numbers up 39% since pre-COVID. Clare Bocking, Chief Commercia Officer for DCS chaired the day.

Themed ‘Be the Best You’ key speakers included Victoria Crouch, Head of Customer Merchandising, Brakes; Sheila Gallagher, Commercial Director, Booker; Keira Campbell, Sales Director, Henderson Foodservice; Lisa-Jayne Hanson, Category Controller, Bestway and Elaine Haynes, Business Manager at Costco Wholesale.

Topics ranged from diversity & inclusion hacks; situational leadership tips; advice to manage menopause; and how to improve the workplace for returning parents. The guest speaker was behavioural persuasion and influential communication expert, Lee Warren.

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*Details about the research 

The females on boards research is based on the Big 30 Wholesalers (as defined by The Grocer) and Buying Groups. The number of females working in board level positions was reported by WiW to be 11% in 2016, increasing to 17% in 2019.

The WiW Diversity & Inclusion Survey 2022 was an open survey across the whole sector between 26 August and 14 September 2022 and involved 291 participants. Those respondents working for a wholesaler were the basis of the data shared in this press release, a sample of 184 people, 66% of whom were female: 34% male.