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Flexibility, sponsoring young talent key themes from NEW event


Job sharing and sponsorship of talent were key topics discussed Tuesday at a Network of Executive Women breakfast in Mississauga, Ont.

More than 200 from the CPG and grocery industry gathered to hear (pictured above, L to R): Chris Vickers Tucker, president & GM, The Clorox Company of Canada, moderator Joan Toth, CEO & president of NEW; Miyo Yamashita, partner, enterprise risk, Deloitte; Carol Stewart, president & CEO, Kelloggs Canada; and Mary van Praag, general manager, Coty Canada.

The panelists all agreed that when it comes to recruiting female workers, that's not where the problem lies. It's in retaining them throughout their career path. Kellogg's Stewart said that while the workforce is 50 per cent female, only 10 percent of all CEOs are women.

Tucker said organizations like NEW help young women navigate their career path through mentoring opportunities, and feedback with industry colleagues.

As for barriers facing women in the workforce, Yamashita of Deloitte said that the big issue is retaining female workers as they approach senior management/leadership roles.

Key factors women face when it comes to the career track is the bulk of child rearing is still done by women and those in sales who need to be available to move to different cities and travel may veer off that path once married with kids.

Tucker of Clorox said that her company provided her the option to job share and go part time when she had young kids. "After I had my first child, my career path slowed down, but I wasn't off the path completely," she shared. At the time, Clorox's office in San Francisco had to work harder to retain its workers amidst the dot-com boom.

Van Praag agreed that companies need to offer more flexible work environments to retain talent. Stewart of Kellogg's also said her company had people who left and came back.

Yamashita shared that she had worked with retail clients who provided a concierge service to its young female leaders because they wanted to keep them from dropping out as they entered senior management.

Another service she said a retailer offered was when someone in the company had to move globally, the retailer also found a job for the accompanying spouse in the new location as well.

All panelists agreed that companies need to work on succession planning for future female leaders. Van Praag of Coty said that companies should nuture up and comers through sponsorship. Unlike mentoring, sponsorship causes senior leaders to invest in female talent by putting their credibility on the line.

Toth of NEW said the common saying is that women are over mentored and under sponsored. The panelists offered great advice to young women in the audience.

Van Praag said in order to be mentored or sponsored, women need to be open to feedback--be it negative or positive.

Yamashita said that she was a feedback junkie which allowed her to move up the ranks quickly. You need to get feedback from a variety of sources, and you need to find something you love to do, she said.

Van Praag added that young women need to take risks in their career. Tucker said she moved from banking to the director of sales at one point in her career, having never made a sales call. Stewart concurred and said that young women have to get out of their comfort zone to advance in their careers.

Here are some photos of the NEW Toronto event:

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