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Bringing two decades of experience in research, consulting, teaching, writing and mentoring in gender and diversity to the forum, Stacy Blake-Beard was among the speakers scheduled to share insights at this year’s PMA Women’s Fresh Perspectives April 17-19 at Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego.

Blake-Beard, a professor at Simmons College in Boston, will specifically address the effects of diversity/inclusion, along with unconscious bias, on the areas of women’s leadership and careers.stacy-blake-beardStacy Blake-Beard

Currently professor of management, Blake-Beard teaches organizational behavior at Simmons, and in addition to that role, she serves as faculty affiliate for the college’s Center for Gender in Organizations. She has also been visiting faculty member at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, India.

Prior to joining Simmons in 2001, she was a faculty member at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, teaching electives in diversity and mentoring in organizations. Today, she continues to serve as a consultant for the Harvard Center for Workforce Development.

Much of her research work is focused on the challenges and opportunities offered by mentoring relationships, with a focus on how these relationships may be changing as a result of increasing work force diversity.

Blake-Beard said she is particularly interested in issues women face as they develop mentoring relationships, and she studies the dynamics of formal mentoring programs in both corporate and educational settings.

Her path to this level of expertise came by way of practicing what she advocates. Blake-Beard earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Maryland-College Park and a master’s and doctorate in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan. She was recipient of a 2010-11 Fulbright Award to support “Systems of Sustenance and Support: Exploring the Impact of Mentoring on the Career Experiences of Indian Women,” carried out in partnership with the Center for Leadership, Innovation and Change at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad.

She has also received awards from the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Robert Toigo Foundation.

Her research been appeared in dozens of respected publications, including Journal of Career Development, the Academy of Management Executive and the Psychology of Women Quarterly, and Blake-Beard co-edited the Handbook of Research on Promoting Women’s Careers, published in 2013. Her perspective on mentoring is also featured in Stanford University’s Voice and Influence series, sponsored by the Clayman Institute for Gender Research (

Outside the halls of academia, Blake-Beard has worked in sales and marketing at Procter & Gamble and in the corporate human resources department at Xerox. Her clients include organizations across industry settings, including Hewlett Packard, IBM, Cisco, Bank of America, Chase Manhattan Bank and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

All of which begs the question: How did you first embark on this multifaceted career?

“I am from Baltimore, and I grew up thinking I wanted to be a pediatrician because my mother was a nurse, my aunt was a surgeon and I liked kids,” she said. “After taking organic chemistry — that great mind changer of formerly pre-med students — I decided to revisit my goal of becoming a doctor. At the time, I was also taking psychology classes; I decided psychology was the direction I wanted to go.”

Her goal is “connecting people to opportunity,” and she said, “With psychology you can do that.”

On the Harvard faculty for six years, she worked with many organizations to accomplish that connecting in that venue. During her time at Harvard, she began developing her own program for teaching organizational behavior and gender/diversity in leadership as part of executive education.

“Recently, I have been developing teaching and training materials to explore unconscious bias,” she said, noting that unconscious bias is something everyone has but isn’t necessarily aware it exists. “It comes to the surface in response to the issue of diversity,” she said.

Blake-Beard is particularly interested in working with people on the topic of diversity “because this is a concept that raises so much emotion,” she said. “Even though we are surrounded by diversity, even talking about the topic scares us. Through my work, I want to give people a way to delve into and create actions to welcome and support diversity.”  

She is focused on diversity in the workplace because she believes it is a huge plus, and she shared thoughts on the benefits that come from “those diverse perspectives” offered by women.

“Organizations that have taken the time and energy to crack the glass — or concrete — ceiling have done really well,” she said, citing a major global accounting firm.

Blake-Beard also referred to comments from Pat Milligan, senior partner and global leader of a multinational client group and former president of Mercer’s North America. Milligan delivered a video message on International Women’s Day, noting, “The only way we hit gender parity is if we fundamentally change the way we hire, retain and promote women. It will take a global village.”

In the produce and floral industries, Blake-Beard said, the role of women in leadership is obvious.

“Look at the customer base,” she said of the majority of shoppers. “Those are the clients and companies do well to be proactive.”

And when asked how women’s conference such as PMA Women’s Fresh Perspectives benefit attendees, she said, “Something spectacular happens when you get a group of smart women together. There’s energy and companionship, community and a spirit of giving and sisterhood. It has an impact that lasts long after you’ve gone home — like a tool you can use and refer back to.”

The takeaway is “learning how to make the theory applicable and relevant and make it work,” she said. “We are building strategic relationships through these gatherings.”

Her advice to the women in attendance is “be aware of unconscious bias. You can’t help but have it, but be aware and question and challenge when you see you’re locking some folks out. Use inquiry as much as advocacy. Ask questions. Take some time and don’t look away.”

In matters of bias, “We all have the responsibility to do something” to quell it. Fear stops many, but she said, “When we dare to step out, it becomes less and less important if we are afraid. And one of the ways we step out is by supporting each other. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. Strong people ask for help.”

She also said it’s important after leaving a conference such as the Women’s Fresh Perspectives to “take time to reflect. What’s the goal? What do you want to utilize your skill set to accomplish? What are you going to do, and who’s going to help you. And then, just do it.”

In conclusion, Blake-Beard said, “My hope is that diversity and inclusion are not just lip service. My hope is we actually do it.”

Church Brothers Farms, a leading grower, processor and shipper of more than 500 fresh vegetable SKUs, will be offering organically grown produce as part of its overall product offering starting May 1.Church-Brothers-Farms-Organic-Line

The company is offering organically grown produce to meet growing consumer demand that can be felt in the foodservice channel, according to Steve Church, chief executive officer of the Salinas, CA-based company.

“We view organics as completing our overall product line and something our customers asked for,” Church said.

The company’s organic product line will start with spring mix, baby kales, wild arugula and baby spinach.

“These items are a starting point for us and we intend to expand our organic offerings and volume over time as we grow the business with our customer’s needs,” Church added. “Adding organics to our offering supports our one-stop-shop approach and service for our customers.”

Church Brothers Farms will market the items under the True Leaf Farms label. The first products will ship in May from the Church Brothers Farms facility in San Juan Bautista, CA.

Findings from a new large-scale study of more than 10,000 consumers conducted by Market Force Information revealed that Wegmans is America’s favorite grocery retailer, followed by Publix Super Markets and Trader Joe’s. It's the first time in four years that Trader Joe’s did not rank first in the grocery study.

For the rankings, Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent grocery shopping experience and their likelihood to refer that grocer to others. The results were averaged to rank each brand on a Composite Loyalty Index.

After not earning enough votes to make the 2015 list, Wegmans garnered double the votes in 2016, resulting in a score of 76 percent -- enough to secure the top spot.

Publix ranked second for the fourth year with an earned a score of 75 percent, followed by Trader Joe’s, which slipped 5 percentage points for a score of 73 percent. Hy-Vee and ALDI rounded out the top five.

Wegmans, founded in 1916, is known for fresh produce, reasonable prices and massive stores. The Rochester, NY-based chain is steadily expanding and winning over more devoted customers along the way. Its focus on employee training to ensure memorable customer experiences has been a winning strategy that creates superfans eager for a new location to open near their homes.

grea Graph-1---Favorite-Grocery-Chains

Market Force sought to uncover which brands excel in operational and service categories that set leading grocers apart.

Publix and Wegmans led in most areas, including the ability to find desired items, cleanliness and specialty department service. ALDI was the price leader, followed by WinCo and Costco. Trader Joe’s, known for its friendly service, ranked first for cashier courtesy. ShopRite, Meijer and Kroger offer the best sales and promotions. Hy-Vee also performed well across the board, ranking in the top five in many categories.

Shoppers are increasing seeking local and organic foods while grocery shopping. The study showed that 49 percent of consumers prefer to purchase organic items when given a choice.

Produce, meat and dairy were the most frequently purchased organic products, followed by packaged canned foods, packaged dry foods and frozen foods. Less popular were organic baby, paper and personal hygiene products.

Purchases of organic options for all but two categories increased from 2015, indicating a growing importance of organic selections. A majority (58 percent) of shoppers also indicated that locally sourced meat, produce and dairy products are important.

As more grocery shoppers are crunched for time, prepared foods continue to be a popular choice, with two-thirds indicating they purchased some form of prepared food in the previous 30 days. Forty-three percent did so once a month, 19 percent once a week, and 8 percent twice a week or more.

Convenience was overwhelming the most popular reason for purchasing prepared foods, but many also turn to pre-made foods as an alternative to dining out or because of the quality of food offered.

The most common types of prepared meals purchased were ready-to-eat main courses and ready-to-eat side dishes, appetizers and desserts. Ready-to-cook main courses and ready-to-cook side dishes, appetizers and desserts ranked third and fourth, respectively.

Despite the rise in alternative shopping and delivery methods, 99 percent still do their grocery shopping traditionally -- a trip to the store to buy and bring home products.

In the past 90 days, just 5 percent ordered online for home delivery, 2 percent ordered online and picked up groceries in-store, and 2 percent used “click and collect” – ordering online and collecting through the grocer’s drive-up.

Of the 4 percent who have ever tried click and collect, 73 percent were satisfied with the experience and nearly half are repeat users.

Market Force found approximately half of consumers used a grocery app in the previous 90 days. The most prevalently used apps are those offered by specific grocers, while a nominal amount of consumers opt for third-party apps such as Checkout 51, SavingStar and Yummly.

Consumers are primarily using apps to obtain coupons, followed by scanning barcodes, comparing prices and availability and creating grocery lists.

On the more low-tech end, printed circulars have not diminished in popularity. About half of consumers are reviewing them once a week, and 14 percent are reviewing them three to four times a week. They’re also influencing where and how consumers shop.

Seventy-nine percent said they plan their shopping trips based on what is in the circulars, 65 percent clip coupons from them and 61 percent use them to compare prices between grocers.

Of particular interest to grocers is that nearly two-thirds shop at a specific grocer because of the promotions offered in a weekly circular.

The survey was conducted online in February 2016 across the United States. The pool of 10,025 respondents represented a cross-section of the four U.S. census regions, and reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 54 percent reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 67 percent were women and 33 percent were men.

The 2016 California strawberry market, evidenced by decreased acreage, an early fast pace and predicted volume resilience, bodes well for growers, shippers and retailers — especially those who protect their investment by choosing Tectrol during berry transit — according to Rich Macleod, director of TransFresh Corp.transfresh

The California Strawberry Commission Acreage Survey for 2016 reports that total acreage is down due to increased pressures from production costs and regulators but that despite the downward shift, volume is predicted to be resilient and consumer demand strong.

“Now more than ever, growers, shippers and retailers must protect the quality of their berry products so that every pallet, tray and clamshell achieves the greatest return on investment possible,” Macleod said in a press release. The Tectrol Modified Atmosphere Packaging System is scientifically proven to significantly decrease decay during transit and on shelf, delivering a strong level of protection beyond industry low temperature management to help ensure the quality and marketability of fresh berry products.

Macleod pointed to a peer-reviewed joint research study from the University of Florida and University of California-Davis that compared cross-country shipments of California strawberries. Researchers found that strawberries transported using the sealed Tectrol pallet cover system in which CO2 levels were consistently held demonstrated a significant reduction in decay and better quality on arrival and on shelf compared to other methods.

“The advantage of decreased incidents of decay and decay severity has a direct correlation to revenue potential,” said Macleod. “The financial implications are stunning when you consider the hundreds of thousands of strawberry pallets shipped during the season.”

The TransFresh website,, includes a calculator function that allows visitors to view the financial benefits they could realize when using Tectrol.

Throughout the postharvest shipping process, TransFresh also provides full- service technical and quality assurance support and productivity management through the Tectrol Service Network.

Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers has launched a Spring into Flavour promotion that features Ontario greenhouse tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers available now in Ontario grocery stores. ogvg

The growing demand for Ontario greenhouse vegetables is motivated by consumers' healthy eating choices. OGVG growers have increased production to ensure the supply is abundant for Ontario consumers and retailers.

“We have received unprecedented support of this promotional program from key Ontario retailers,” OGVG General Manager Rick Seguin said in a press release. “Consumers can now find Ontario greenhouse produce from their local greenhouse growers in stores across the province.”

OGVG’s campaign includes recipe cards, flyer promotions, social media advertising and a partnership with Foodland Ontario on the Retail Display Contest. The Spring into Flavour branding is featured on in-store materials provided by OGVG. Consumers can find recipe ideas on OGVG’s website at