In the world of business, the value of women is now an accepted fact.
They excel alongside men in nearly every career path from surgeon, CEO, and fighter pilot to NFL referee and Supreme Court Justice. When it comes to the U.S. workforce, women on the payroll outnumbered men in December 2019 (and once before in 2010). Analysts believe the trend will continue.
Multiple studies confirm companies with women in leadership positions have higher profits, and their presence in the boardroom is expanding—albeit slowly. New laws in California, Illinois, and other states now require public companies have at least woman on the board, or face fines.
When it comes to the produce industry, the influence of women can be found throughout the supply chain: they are entry level, middle management, and in the executive suite; they are shareholders and owners.
Along the way, they learned from a handful of pioneers like the late great Frieda Caplan, who built an empire and changed the way America eats. Frieda, her two daughters, and granddaughter are profiled in a special sidebar in this article.
There are also many lesser known women who have quietly forged a path for others to follow. And despite their struggles, most care more about making a difference than ruminating about past wrongs or obstacles.
They champion causes, mentor other women, and are resolute in creating a culture where all—both female and male colleagues—are given opportunities to thrive individually and collectively.
As women become an increasingly visible and influential presence, their stories highlight the best and most challenging aspects of the produce industry, while also serving to inspire the next generation of produce leaders.
For an insightful look at a handful of movers and shakers in fresh produce—of multiple ages and stages in their careers—read on and enjoy the series. Click the “Good Company” tag to see all the stories in the series.
This is a multi-part series adapted from a profile in the March/April 2020 issue of Produce Blueprints.