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National Restaurant Association - WFF, industry aim to lead way on gender equity

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WFF, industry aim to lead way on gender equity

Pictured above, from left, are the NRA's Dawn Sweeney, Jay Steiber and Sam Facchini with the WFF's Hattie Hill

Business leaders joined the Women’s Foodservice Forum Sunday to support the kickoff of its effort encouraging the food industry to “Lead the Way” to gender equity.

The leaders of the food industry’s three main business associations — the National Restaurant Association, the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association, and the International Foodservice Distributors Association — were on hand as Hattie Hill, the WFF’s president and CEO, introduced the initiative at her organization’s annual conference in Dallas.

Dawn Sweeney, the NRA’s president and CEO; Larry Oberkfell, IFMA’s president and CEO; and Tom Zatina, IFDA’s past chair, pledged their support for the initiative, which aims to close the gender equity gap in the food industry by 2025 and create best practices for it and other industries to follow. NRA Chair Jay Steiber and NRA Educational Foundation Chair Sam Facchini joined Sweeney and IFMA Chair Ben Shanley joined Oberkfell.

“WFF is putting a stake in the ground on women’s empowerment with a bold initiative to make the food industry the first to close the gender equity gap and lead the way for other industries,” Hill said. “Now is the time to take the women’s movement to its next evolution of propelling more women into leadership.”

Citing research compiled by McKinsey & Company for two 2017 reports — Women in the Workplace and Women in the Food Industry — Hill said women in the food industry make up nearly half of its entry-level workforce and hold just 19 percent of C-suite positions. She added that companies who lead in gender diversity also drive better financial performance.

Hill said the WFF’s key imperatives aim to:

  • Achieve a critical mass of CEOs, senior decision-makers and organizations who actively advance women leaders in the food industry
  • Drive a pipeline of prepared women leaders advancing in the food industry
  • Create an industry-recognized Gender Equity Index to track and propel women’s progress.

Sweeney told attendees that 33 percent of restaurant businesses are majority-owned by women and 46 percent of managers are female.

She added that because the industry is composed of one of the most diverse workforces in America, it’s in a unique position to drive change. Sweeney also said the NRA would work closely with the WFF and the MultiCultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance to advance diversity and inclusion in the restaurant industry.

This year’s conference, themed “Break Through,” runs through March 7. More than 3,500 foodservice executives were expected to attend, where keynote speeches by former First Lady Michelle Obama and TV news personalities Maria Shriver and Gretchen Carlson are featured.

Follow the WFF on Twitter and support #WFFLeadTheWay

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