WGA Roundtable Session at The NGA Show Ignites Important Discussions Regarding Workplace Challenges Facing Women

December 6, 2021

By Eric Payne, NGA Manager of Communications

This year’s NGA Show was a testament to the strength and resolve of the independent grocery industry, as grocers gathered and recognized their work over the last year as the COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the grocery industry. Grocers had to prioritize the safety of their employees and customers, while continuing to provide premier customer service and maintain their position as pillars in their community. It was not easy, but independents persevered against all odds. 

But the Show was not just about recapping the last year, we also looked to the future, identifying what the landscape could look like so grocers can adapt and capitalize. One way we do this is through the NGA Foundation, which supports the future of the independent community grocer through initiatives to develop more effective recruiting programs, enhance retention efforts, and bolster professional and leadership development opportunities for employers.  

The NGA Foundation has 5 programmatic pillars which support the work they do on behalf of the independent grocery industry each day. There are: Scholarships, Leadership Development, Industry Promotion, Student Programs, and Diversity and Inclusion. Each pillar is essential to the success of the NGA Foundation; however, today, we will focus on Diversity and Inclusion, as it was featured prominently during The NGA Show this year with the Women Grocers of America (WGA) Roundtable Session aimed at addressing top of mind workplace challenges.  

WGA operates under the NGA Foundation and is a professional development network for women in the independent supermarket industry. Their mission is to inspire and empower women throughout our industry through personal and professional development by cultivating connections and highlighting accomplishments and achievements. At The NGA Show this year, WGA led these roundtable discussions on a variety of topics to identify solutions and new ideas. 

WGA organized an open discussion session to discuss topics from engaging and retaining, to work life balance. This event was attended by everyone from industry veterans and c-suite level executives to women just beginning their careers in the grocery industry. It allowed an open forum to network and discuss challenges facing their businesses and share innovative solutions. Here are some of the key takeaways from these discussions:  

  1. Kristin Popp of Woodman’s Market based in Janesville, Wisconsin, spoke about the importance of providing better training and working to engage staff.
  2. One of the biggest challenges that kept coming up is engaging and retaining employees – Hedi Huff and Sarah Rivers of IGA spoke about the importance of selling store culture when recruiting new employees and providing leadership training for managers. Shellie Wood with KeHE mentioned the importance of the company’s flexibility to attract employees in today’s workplace. Christy Hess of Busch’s Market covered their strategy with providing flexible schedules for their employees.
  3. Two other topics of importance were that employees want to feel valued and need mentors to help them achieve their full potential.  
  4. Probably the biggest takeaway from the roundtable discussion is that grocers need to be laser focused on recruitment and retention by seeking innovative ways to support their employees.  

NGA thanks event sponsors: The JM Smucker Company, Laurel Grocery Co., Mondelēz International, Nestle Purina, Woodman’s Market, and Unilever. This is just the first step in these discussions, as WGA will be present at The NGA Show from February 27- March 1 at Caesar’s Forum Convention Center in Las Vegas. We look forward to seeing you there! If you’re interested in joining WGA, click here.