It really feels like the Year of the Woman in the confectionery industry. 

Michele Buck just became one of 21 other women to lead the board of a Fortune 500 company after being elected as the new chairman of The Hershey Company board of directors this month. 

The three women co-presidents of Smarties — Sisters Liz Dee and Jessica Dee Sawyer, and their cousin Sarah Dee — are celebrating the company’s 70th anniversary

And Nestlé was just recognized for advancing gender balance in the workplace, being named one of the recipients of the 2019 Leading Women Awards by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). 

Furthermore, Nestle’s Ghazal Nemati, supplier and agriculture development manager, also received the WBCSD’s NextGen award, which recognizes the next generation of women leaders who are advancing sustainability in their company. Olam’s Narawadee Modenuch, research and sustainability analyst, also was recognized with the NextGen award.

In addition to all that, our own Candy Industry Kettle Committee, features three women leaders this year. The current Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary are all women — Elizabeth Clair (Barry Callebaut USA LLC), Denise Lansing (Clasen Quality Chocolate), and Kathy Koszuta (Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate North America), respectively. 

There is still much work to be done in the industry when it comes to diversity — there is, in fact, a pay gap, and it’s still rare to see any people of color at industry events.

But I’m happy to see that there is progress being made. 

And when it comes to diversity, progress begets progress. As more women take over leadership roles, there are more of them around to mentor others and to push for even more women to rise up the ranks. 

Of course, we cannot do it alone. To all the men in the industry, we need your help if we want to have any sort of realistic hope of accomplishing our goals. So please: Call out sexual harassment when you see it, advocate for giving women credit for their ideas, and help close the pay gap.

My dream, of course, is that 2019 will feel antiquated just a few short years from now — that we’ll be even closer to equality in the years to come. 

So here’s to all the amazing, intelligent and incredible women working in the confectionery industry. May your ideas always be taken seriously, may you always make as much as the men you work alongside, and may the 2020s become the decade of the woman — the decade we all deserve.