Retail News Breaks Archives
Gender diversity good for retail
September 14th, 2011
CHICAGO – As board chair of the Network of Executive Women (NEW), Michelle Gloeckler is leading the organization as it reaches a significant milestone.
At the organization’s upcoming Leadership Summit (scheduled to be held September 19 and September 20 in Orlando, Fla.) NEW will mark its 10th anniversary and will inaugurate its William J. Grize CPG Retail Diversity Hall of Fame Award.
"It will be a combination of a great celebration of 10 years’ growth and accomplishments, as well as a celebration to honor the individuals and the companies that have been critical in believing in NEW and championing us and moving us forward at a time when there were certainly no requirements that they do so," Gloeckler says of the summit.
Gloeckler, who leads the Home business for Walmart U.S., says NEW’s mission is simple: to attract, retain and advance women in the retail and consumer products industries.
"We do that through education, leadership, business development and, in my view, a lot of inspiration," Gloeckler says. "We’re a not-for-profit organization, and we’re not here to replace any company’s diversity initiatives. But we are absolutely a resource."
Gloeckler points out that companies increasingly recognize that gender diversity is not just good for women but good for business as well. That is certainly true of Walmart, she adds.
"We believe that having an associate base that reflects our customers and our shoppers is very healthy, and helps us make better decisions," Gloeckler says. "And for a retailer it’s particularly important, given the powerful influence women have on shopping decisions."
Gloeckler adds that a recent study by Anita Woolley of Carnegie Mellon University and Thomas Malone of MIT has shown that a group’s collective intelligence is higher when it includes more women. That is because smart groups are not necessarily made up of the smartest people in the room, but by people who are smart and listen to each other.
"It’s about welcoming that diverse thought," Gloeckler says.
Gloeckler, who joined Walmart in 2009 after 21 years with Hershey Co., has been involved with NEW for about seven years, and she has found the group a source of inspiration and friendship.
"Networking can be an investment in time, and NEW makes it easy," she says. "And it can be networking about business, jobs or family — it can be about anything that helps a busy woman manage her life."
Gloeckler notes that NEW’s board includes men and women, and retailers and suppliers.
"We pride ourselves on diversity and inclusion," she says.