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Report: Increasing the Representation of Women in The Foodservice Distribution Industry Boosts Profits

Report: Increasing the Representation of Women in The Foodservice Distribution Industry Boosts Profits

A new report from the International Foodservice Distributors Association finds that incorporating more female representation in the foodservice industry increases profits and competitiveness for food companies. The report titled, “Recruitment and Retention of Women: Enhancing Inclusion and Diversity,” highlighted companies that have outperformed their competition because of the diversity of their workforce.

“Simply stated, diversity provides companies with a competitive advantage and increases individual, team, and company performance. There is a clear, positive financial impact from diversity practices” said the report.

According to the document, gender diversity in the workplace is associated with increased sales revenue, more customers and greater relative profits. Companies who fell under the top 25 percent for gender diversity were found to be 15 percent more likely to accumulate profits higher than their industry’s national median . In addition, the companies that were found in the top 25 percent for racial/ethnic diversity were 35 percent more likely to earn to higher profits than their national median. The companies who were at the bottom of these quartiles were statistically less likely to achieve above-average financial returns.

In terms of women in the workplace specifically, companies who had the highest representation of women in top management teams had experienced 35 percent higher returns on equity and 34 percent higher total returns to shareholders than those who had less female representation.

These higher returns are a result of heterogeneity in the workplace, which allows multiple points of views to be shared and more ideas on important company activities. The report highlighted better overall company performances to be directly related to the diversity of gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation in the workplace. The inclusion of diversity in employees allow more ideas to flow into the company as differing people have different opinions, skills, ideas and perspectives to add to the company.

“At a recent conference, I was on a CEO panel with two men I highly respect. The moderator asked a question regarding technology and one panelist answered as the other panelist nodded along, agreeing with everything he said. Then here I was, the only female and a lone wolf, having a difference of opinion on the issue and letting them know I disagreed. It drove home to me the need for diversity of thought and perspective. There is a danger in everyone looking at an issue in the same way,” said Nicole Mouskondis, Co-CEO, Nicholas & Company, Inc in the report.

To help companies incorporate more diversity into their workforce while also selecting the best candidate for each position, the IFDA highlighted five key tactics for food companies to look into when recruiting:

  1. Representation When Recruiting: Including female employees in the recruitment process will let potential candidates know that the company places importance on diversity, which is very important to millennials entering the workplace. Also including females in imagery or company brochures will likely appeal to more female candidates.


  1. Reducing Bias During Interviews and Performance Evaluations: According to the report, if a candidate pool has only one female applicant, statistically she has a zero percent chance of getting the job. By conducting panel interviews, companies can prevent individual bias and better evaluate candidates on their skills. IFDA research found that joint evaluations prove to be more skills-based whereas individual evaluations are more likely to based on gender stereotypes.


  1. Mentorships: Although most companies do not provide formal mentorship programs, the IFDA recommends them as a source of inclusion in the workplace and a way to develop more qualified leaders.


  1. Internships: By diversifying internship candidates, companies can play an active role in developing a diverse set of experienced professionals.


  1. Strategic Succession Planning: By challenging individuals to take on leadership roles, employers are able to further develop the skills of their employees and set up a promotional path for developing successful leaders.


“Diversity will not be solved through a recruiting push alone. It’s up to us to find ways to hire, inspire, empower, encourage, and support women and diversity in our industry. There needs to be a concretive effort, helmed by top management, to actively assess company-specific issues, create programs to address company-specific issues, advocate an inclusive environment at every level, establish accountability, and evaluate efforts. Diversifying the foodservice distribution workforce, and promoting women in leadership roles will result in overall benefit,” concluded the report.