The Women in Wholesale (WiW) conference took place yesterday (19 October) with the mission to support the development and progress of females working in UK grocery wholesale.
Almost 200 wholesalers and FMCG suppliers gathered at the British Library in London for the event, more than double last year’s attendance.
Country Range managing director, Coral Rose, and Immediate Impact director, Clare Bocking, chaired sessions on talent attraction and retention strategy together with talks on negotiation, how to network, inclusive leadership and how to be bolder in business.
At the event, the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) announced that it has joined forces with flexible-working experts Timewise to launch a flexible working pilot in wholesale.
The announcement follows research earlier this year that a lack of flexible working options was the key barrier to progress for females.
The project will begin with a consultation phase next month with key wholesalers to assess current practice, as well as barriers and opportunities for taking action on flexible working for both new as well current employees. A plan for a flexible job design programme will then be shared with all FWD members.
WiW founder Elit Rowland, said: “UK wholesale spends a huge amount on recruitment and re-training every year. Supporting a better work-life balance will increase job satisfaction, support retention and result in significant cost savings – this is a tremendous show of support from the FWD.”
Also at the conference, wholesaler JJ Food Service shared its ‘Women in the Warehouse’ campaign, which has enabled the business to increase its talent pool, hitting a record of 13% female workers in the warehouse, up from zero at the start of the year.
Scottish Wholesale Association president Julie Dunn shared the group’s ‘Rising Stars of Wholesale’ initiative, which is helping to attract and retain talent North of the Border, while Blakemore HR director Ian Diment revealed the group’s new Equality and Diversity strategy, which supports the next generation of female leaders.
Closing the day and leaving delegates fuelled with inspiration was guest speaker Nikki King, OBE, honorary chairperson of Isuzu (ITUK), who shared how she grew ITUK into a multi-million-pound business and pioneered flexible working with a 50% female leadership team.