To coincide with International Women’s Day, Supermarket News Magazine asked several women in grocery to talk about their achievements, challenges, opportunities and experiences.

Unfortunately, if you Google ‘Women in Grocery’, the search engine often directs you to ‘did you mean How to Pick Up Women in a Grocery Store’. Fortunately, we already knew about these talented women who are moving the goalposts for those women joining the industry in 2018.

“International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – and also a call to action for accelerating gender parity.  In an industry where gender participation rates have been less than equal traditionally we have been working hard to change this and, while people may still tend to think of brewing in particular as a male-dominated industry, at Lion we have women in senior roles in all areas of the business – including female head brewers.  In recent years, we have set a 50:50 gender target for 2026, launched Inclusion & Diversity and Families at Lion Policies, embedded a comprehensive flexible working policy, been working to mitigate unconscious bias and established our Women at Lion program.   We took a major step forward in 2017 by assessing and then closing the gender pay gap and were incredibly proud to subsequently win the Gold Champion award at the YMCA Equal Pay Awards. An advertisement we placed following that win stated our position ‘Often what you stand against is just as important as what you stand for. At Lion, we stand against a gender pay gap.’ I am very proud to be working for a company that genuinely seeks to advance the role of women in our industry.”




– Sara Tucker, External Relations Director, Lion.





“I’ve seen a lot of hurdles come down for women in grocery. We’ve now seen women head our businesses, head our factory, and head our field sales. To support gender balance we’ve not only leveraged the voice of women but have given male champions of change an opportunity to support employees’ diverse needs.

As local HR lead, I’ve been part of embedding change, and am fortunate to be surrounded by people who want to deliver this. We’ve evolved recruitment and succession planning, deployed diversity training and introduced practices to help people trying to balance work and personal commitments.

International Women’s Day is not country or organisation specific – the day belongs to everyone. Collectively, let’s press for progress.”





– Kathleen Upton, HR Business Partner, Nestle New Zealand




“Women in FMCG – where we were, where we are…

In FMCG in NZ right now we do see fewer women than men in C-suite roles, but that does not mean they’re not in senior management or management positions. It also doesn’t mean they are just in sales, marketing, HR or support functions either. These functions traditionally having had a higher percentage of female representation. We see women at high levels across operational roles, manufacturing, finance and up into head-of, country and regional led positions. Is there an opportunity to do more? Yes absolutely!

The 2015 PWC, The Female Millennial report, and the Deloitte 2017 Westpac New Zealand Diversity Dividend Report offer some interesting statistics, do check them out. Briefly, though, data shows that more women are becoming more educated and more highly educated than our male counterparts. They are entering the workforce in greater numbers than ever before and are more confident about realising their aspirations. They are looking for a holistically fulfilling organisation to partner with on their career journey. It’s not just about an annual salary, bonus and a bit of business culture, it’s about your total business health that is their priority.

The most critical findings are; #1; having career progression pathways for your talent, they’re ambitious, they want to know they can go to the top and how, #2; flexibility – working location, style, work/life balance, #3; feedback, they may want to work flexibly and via technology but they want face to face time to help them grow and develop.

It’s all about your attraction as an employer and a business, and your retention, engagement and development strategies. The FGC Talent Working Group identified these core pillars several years ago and has successfully started to help FMCG companies to develop their diversity and inclusion strategies and remain an attractive proposition within a talent competitive marketplace.”




– Rachel Clayton, Partner, Customise Talent






“International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate progress and set new goals. Women play a vital role in the grocery industry at all levels from the checkout to the CEO. But it’s clear that the grocery career pipeline leaks and we lose too many skills. This is particularly evident when we see how few women make it to Managing Director or top sales or marketing roles in New Zealand. We still see too many FMCG company boards with no women directors. When I look at the solid work being done by FGC members to promote diversity, ensure pay equity and to recruit more women leaders, I am confident that we will make good progress, but it doesn’t happen unless we focus on improving participation and that’s why I celebrate International Women’s Day each year.”




– Katherine Rich, Chief Executive, FGC





“The FMCG Industry has offered me a wonderful career over the last 25 years and I would definitely encourage young women to join.  I have never felt disadvantaged or overlooked as a result of my gender and in fact, at times it has been an advantage for me.  Starting my career as a graduate in the Industry there were definitely fewer women than there is today.  In fact, the first conference I attended I was one of 3 women in a sea of over 100 males!  Standing out was obviously easier in this situation however performance expectations still have to be achieved so we were not favoured either.  Today the gender balance is far more even and I am excited to see more women promoted into Senior roles however we still have a long way to go to even it up at the Exec and Board Level.  Given that women still make up the larger %age of household shoppers and bring a diversity of thought and perspective I believe that FMCG Companies need to actively work to balance gender at the top level.”





– Kelly Smith, Director, BizAdvisor





“As one of New Zealand’s most successful businesses, our people are what set us apart and Foodstuffs North Island is wholly committed to finding and growing diverse talent to create high performing and collaborative teams. Leveraging diversity and embracing different thinking makes us stronger, more innovative; helping us to understand the customer and make better business decisions.

As a customer-led company, understanding what customers want and what their life challenges and aspirations are, is critical to ensuring that every action taken gives them more out of lifeThere will always be a need to have varied perspectives at all levels of the Foodstuffs business in order to better connect with and understand customersIt’s not just about women in leadership; that seems like narrow thinking to us.

We still have a way to go but our journey is well underway.  As we strive to increase the number of people we have from different cultures and backgrounds, we are also increasing the number of women at the Executive table.  We’ve reached a nearly 50/50 split over the last 12 months at Foodstuffs North Island. It’s about being who you are, bringing your ‘whole self’ to work and helping us challenge our traditional working models.  We want an environment which supports women to feel welcome and to grow their careers with us.

About half of our total employment population is women. We also have a strong contingent of female owner-operators and leaders in our business and those numbers are growing. We drive hard to ensure women are well represented in the shortlist of every leadership role; we have a Women in Leadership group at Foodstuffs that we are proud to say is driven by the women in our business (vs HR). We are dedicated to investing in our people, giving them opportunities to learn, grow and excel through the quality development and the ability to strive for excellence.

As an individual, I’m proud of my personal achievements.  As a company, we should also be really proud of our achievements to date. We are very excited about our future and the journey to progress. At the heart of it, we care, we are committed and we have made solid steps in a long journey; a journey to be celebrated. Happy International Women’s Day to all the amazing women out there.”




– Wendy Hammonds, General Manager People & Capability Foodstuffs North Island.





It was announced today that only 18 percent of New Zealand’s top jobs are held by women.  In comparison, at Countdown almost half of our executive roles are held by women. I’m really proud to have recently joined an organisation that genuinely recognises the importance of diversity and specifically gender diversity. A business that recognises the important role women play in our business and our communities, and who are committed to helping women unlock their potential.

As part of Countdown’s 2020 commitments, we have made some bold statements in relation to gender equity including having at least 40 percent of executive and senior management roles to be held by women and no salary wages gaps between male and female employees of equivalent positions.

To reach these commitments by 2020 we need to remain focused on building a culture that will not only attract great female talent to our business but one that develops women across our business to become great leaders.

Last year we launched our Women in Leadership Programme which focuses on developing confidence, resilience and executive presence through mentoring and personal development and it’s working. Of the 196 women that have already attended, 33 percent have either changed roles or been promoted.

Countdown is a great place to work for women, with flexibility, development and a commitment to be a family first organisation that supports our team to have both work and life balance.

Are we perfect? No. Do we have more to do? Absolutely! We are defining #pressforprogress by celebrating what we have achieved so far and committing to do more.”

– Lauren Voyce, General Manager Culture and People, Countdown