The food industry continues to be a booming sector in the United States that faces a contradiction between the leaders of the industry and those who make the purchasing decisions. Women account for the vast majority of food-purchasing decisions in the United States and also make up almost half the entry-level workforce in the food industry, yet women are underrepresented across the board above this level. In the C-suite, women represent less than a fourth of the space, and within this group are few women of color.
Despite this current state and the unknowns around the barriers to addressing gender inequity, the picture is not all bleak. There are sections within the food industry that are making great strides in increasing the representation of women. We need to continue to highlight the success stories and spread those practices across the food industry. For areas that still lag behind, we must continue to uncover these barriers, as they are likely to be common to many in the industry if not outside of it as well. The food industry has an opportunity to lead the next phase of creating gender and racial equity.
In taking the lead, the food industry will also stand to benefit economically. A more equitable workplace continues to show itself as a way to meet the triple bottom line of a socially responsible business: good for business, good for individuals, and good for the world at large.