PALM BEACH, Fla. — A group of 19 high-profile women in the retail and health care industries formally announced the creation of an organization called WE during a reception at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Annual Meeting here last month.
The mission of WE, derived from the first two letters in well, is to enhance the future and shape the next generation of female leaders, while also advancing the overall health and wellness industry. The scope of the membership stretches from small companies, including Racher Press, publisher of Chain Drug Review and MMR, to such multinationals as Walmart, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Unilever and Procter & Gamble Co.
“This is about what we can do for the industry,” said Annie Walker, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for O-T-C at Walmart, adding that the female voice is crucial in the retail as well as the health care sectors.
Citing a 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, Walker noted that 52% of retail employees and 79% of health care employees are female. However, there are no women chief executive officers in the top health care or retail companies. Only 5% of the top consumer packaged goods companies have female CEOs. “Retail and CPG have the second- and third-highest percentage of women in the entry level jobs, but less than 30% of senior leaders are women, and only 13% rise to the C-suite,” Walker explained.
“Studies show that women are missing role models. Nurturing young leaders is critical,” Walker said. “We believe in a vision of creating an environment that build relationships, encourages others and supports an effort to shape the future of the industry.’
WE, which grew out of a conversation between Andrea Fallin, a sales director at Chain Drug Review, and Kim Sines, senior vice president of sales, at Hello Products, has a board comprised of women, but the group welcomes the support of men in the industry. Notably, WE singled out Scott Emerson, chairman, president and CEO of the Emerson Group, for his firm’s support and sponsorship.