By: Leslie G. Sarasin, President and CEO, Food Marketing Institute 
TWIG 2015 Leslie Sarasin

As in the previous two years, it was my privilege to serve as the guest host at the formal awards ceremony of Progressive Grocer’s Ninth Annual Top Women in Grocery (TWIG) last week in Florida.  This soon-to-be decade old event celebrates the notable contributions women make to the grocery industry by recognizing the star performers in three categories – Senior-Level Executives; Rising Stars; and Store Managers.  The complete list of winners can be found on the TWIG website

During my remarks, I expressed my conviction that the TWIG gala is itself an example of authentic, courageous leadership because it dares to declare the too often unspoken truth regarding the priceless contribution that female wisdom, guidance and inspiration offers to the food retail industry.  It is one of the all-too-rare occasions at which we identify and celebrate the talents these leading women already possess and the many ways they successfully exercise their leadership gifts.

I believe this truth should be proclaimed more loudly and celebrated more widely in our industry.  While a handful of CEO’s attended last week’s TWIG event and I was thrilled to see them there, more industry leaders inhabiting the C-suites should be exposed to the TWIG energy and should be invited to join the journey of spotlighting the influential role women play in the business world of selling food and other grocery products.  To that end, I invited the Stagnito Media management team to consider transitioning the TWIG Gala from a stand-alone event during the busy season in mid-November only days before the Thanksgiving holiday, to an important, strategic component of the larger industry venue offered in June by FMI Connect and the other co-located industry events held there

FMI Connect at its heart is a celebration of all facets of the noble enterprise of food retail.  Moving the TWIG gala into this larger industry context would enable an even bigger group of industry leaders to be reached, engaged and inspired, especially since many in the targeted audience already attend FMI Connect and the FMI Board of Directors meeting held there.  In an industry obsessed with logistical efficiency, this idea scores points on that front as well. 

The industry issue of “staffing, hiring and retention” tied for third place in the 2015 Worry Index in FMI’s The Food Retail Industry Speaks research, marking a return of that concern to the top five anxieties of industry leaders.  A co-location of the TWIG gala at FMI Connect--where we strive to provide meaningful solutions to the top industry challenges – would shine further light on the fact that the answer to one of the top industry worries might be found in the existing pool of women leaders. 

Photo curtsy of Progressive Grocer.