Accelerating the rise of more women to the top of the food and drink industry

04 Mar 2020

Accelerating the rise of more women to the top of the food and drink industry

With just 28% of board roles held by women, the new Accelerate mentoring scheme aims to redress the gender balance at food and drink industry’s top table.

There is a clear need to accelerate the development of female and non-binary senior managers and executives in the food and drink industry. Currently, they account for just 28% of board roles, and the aim of the new Accelerate mentoring scheme is to significantly improve on this.

It is the type of affirmative action required to support the progression of senior female managers to board and top-level roles in the sector.

We are signing up leading UK food and drink manufacturers to participate in this industry-wide mentoring scheme. So far, the invitation to participate has gone out to 40 companies, with over 70,000 employees across the UK.

Following the launch to coincide with International Women’s Day 2020, further potential mentors and mentees will be invited to participate and discuss details of the scheme in its first year.

An industry mentoring partnership

The Accelerate Mentoring Programme is endorsed by The Food and Drink Federation, partnering with Odgers Berndtson executive search, alongside leading business and financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP, and Lane4, a leadership and performance consultancy.

“In our otherwise dynamic industry, it is taking too long to achieve a better gender balance. We’re confident this practical mentoring and high-level support will help many more women to reach the very top.”

KP Snacks, Birds Eye, Muller and Cereal Partners are among the first UK manufacturers who have already pledged their backing to provide mentors and mentees to participate in The Accelerate Mentoring Programme this year.

Career impact for emerging female leaders

“The Accelerate Mentoring program is close to my heart due to the help and support I received from sponsors and mentors who had a fantastic impact on my career. In my discussions with emerging female leaders, I am constantly reminded how important these informal support networks can be,” explains Dame Fiona Kendrick, former CEO and Chairman of Nestlé UK. She was the first woman to head up the UK and Ireland business which has a turnover of £2.7billion and employs 8,000 people across 23 sites in the UK and Ireland.

Dame Fiona’s sentiment is shared by Trefor Griffith, Head of Food and Beverage, Grant Thornton UK LLP.

“Quality mentoring can be a powerful tool in helping people to develop the confidence and build the networks required to move their careers forward” 

“Mentoring programmes that actively support us to address gender imbalance and accelerate career progression, are much needed within the food and beverage sector. We would like this programme to help improve gender parity at senior levels.”

Driving diversity beyond food and drink

The Accelerate Mentoring Programme is the most recent of a number of sector-wide mentoring schemes  introduced by Odgers Berndtson executive search to help senior women progress to board level roles

The most recent is Rebus, a mentoring initiative to support senior women across the technology sector in the UK, backed by over 70 major employers including BT, Google, and Sage. Another addresses gender inequality in Hospitality.

Offering a diverse selection of students a different brand of mentorship, our CEOx1Day programme offers the chance for a student to spend some valuable time with leading UK CEOs.

To find out more about any of the Odgers Berndtson mentoring programmes, contact us.