Driving Gender Parity in the Nutraceutical Industry: For the WIN

Portrait Of Mature Businesswoman In Open Plan Office With Business Team Working In Background

At the end of 2021, in the wake of Vitafoods Europe in Geneva and the return of SupplySide West in Las Vegas, a group of industry friends found themselves asking why weren’t more women in leadership roles in the global nutraceutical industry? Why wasn’t there financing for women-led supplement businesses? And where was the research in female populations supporting the efficacy of these nutritional ingredients, particularly when the majority of consumers of these products are women?

Out of these goals, Women In Nutraceuticals took shape.

During Expo West 2022, the founding board of directors had convened and Women In Nutraceuticals (WIN) was incorporated as a non-profit organization shortly thereafter. WIN brings together a multi-national board of directors and a vision of achieving economic and social equity to advance the global nutraceutical industry.

The 3 primary goals of WIN:

  • to increase the number of women in leadership and the C-suite
  • to increase funding for women-led and -owned businesses
  • to increase the number of women in science and research in female populations

The executive board comprises Chairperson Karen E. Todd, VP Global Brand Marketing, Kyowa Hakko; President Heather Granato, VP Partnerships & Sustainability, Food EMEA, Informa; Vice President Jan Mills, CEO, Artemis International; CFO/Treasurer Doug Reader, CEO, Arizona Nutritional Supplements; Secretary Lynda Doyle, President and CEO, Avant Nutrition; Director at Large Karen Howard, CEO and Executive Director, Organic & Natural Health Association; and Director at Large Julia Wiebe, Managing Director, red otc. 

“While the need for an organization like WIN has been talked about for years, once active work was undertaken to bring it into being, things happened quickly,” said Todd. “The enthusiasm and commitment demonstrated by all involved confirmed that the industry was ready for this, and saw it as beneficial.”

A panel discussion explored the need for more women in science and research in female populations. Courtesy of WIN.

During 2022, the initial concepts were fleshed out, a collaborative process with women and men developing ideas on how to empower women in nutraceuticals to unlock their personal and professional potential. After presentations at industry events throughout the summer and fall, WIN officially launched with a membership portal and programming at the start of October, just in time for SupplySide West in Las Vegas. The SupplySide team organized and sponsored a networking launch event, open to all attendees, that attracted more than 200 industry members. During the Nutrition Capital Network (NCN) Ingredient & Technology event, WIN organized a session addressing the need for investment to support women in science to launch new entrepreneurial businesses. And I hosted a panel discussion on the Main Stage, bringing together three women PhDs to talk about the need for more women in science and research in female populations.

The response to WIN has been overwhelming, with companies, associations, and media partners (including WholeFoods Magazine) coming on board to support the cause.

At press time, WIN can recognize the following founding supporters and partners:

  • Platinum sponsors: Artemis International, Informa, IngredientsOnline.com
  • Gold sponsors: Arizona Nutritional Supplements, Cepham, Cypress Systems, Franklin Health Research Foundation, Kemin, Nutrasource
  • Silver sponsors: Alkemist Labs, Amin Talati Wasserman, AstaReal, BGG, DCC Health & Beauty Solutions, Know Agency, Kyowa Hakko, Maypro, Merical, NOW
  • Partner organizations: Avant Nutrition, Council for Responsible Nutrition, Global Probiotics Association, GOED Omega-3, Industry Transparency Center, International Probiotics Association, Nutrify Today, Nutrition Capital Network, Organic & Natural Health Association, The 6AM Agency
  • Media partners: New Hope Network, Nutraceuticals World, Nutraingredients.com, Nutrition Industry Executive, Nutritional Outlook, SupplySide, Vitafoods, WholeFoods Magazine

As a next step, the WIN board determined it was critical to undertake a global research study to provide baseline data around gender parity in leadership positions across the nutraceutical industry. There is a perception that top leadership across the nutraceutical community is primarily male; however, we can’t rely on anecdotes or gut feelings when seeking to make change—we need data. This benchmarking study will offer a point in time assessment of gender representation in the C-suite and top leadership. In turn, the broader industry and the companies within it can make informed decisions and set a path that will move the needle toward a more inclusive and representative industry. The survey was launched by NEXT Data & Insights team in December 2022. WIN expects to present initial results of this study at Natural Products Expo West in March 2023, with a full presentation at Vitafoods Europe in May 2023.

There is a great deal of work ahead for WIN

This includes everything from ensuring geographic representation to gender parity in the organization itself. (To this point, WIN’s LinkedIn page features quotes from members, including the title “Real Men WIN,” highlighting the importance of inclusivity.) Top priorities include launching a mentorship program, a job board, and scholarship opportunities.

A growing body of research shows that gender diverse teams and women led companies perform better than those run primarily by men, so supporting WIN is not only the right thing to do, it’s a smart decision.

For more information on sponsorship and individual memberships, or to get involved in WIN, please visit WomenInNutraceuticals.org.

Related: NutraViews: Lack of Female Representation in Research—Problems & Solutions
NutraViews: Women Are Your Consumers—Are you Reaching Them?

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Heather Granato is a 30-year veteran of the natural products industry, currently serving as Vice President, Content, in the Health & Nutrition division of Informa Markets. She is currently based in London, leading strategic content development with the Vitafoods portfolio. She has been a presenter at events including SupplySide, Vitafoods, Natural Products Expo, the Natural Gourmet Show and the Folio: Show. Her publishing experience includes Natural Products Insider, Food Product Design, Country Living's Healthy Living, Natural Foods Merchandiser, Delicious Magazine and WomenOf.com. She was named to the FOLIO: 100 list of top media professionals in 2018, was selected as a 2015 Top Woman in Media by FOLIO:, and lead the INSIDER team as it was recognized that year by FOLIO: as B2B Editorial Team of the Year. She received the 2014 Visionary Award and the 2018 Journalistic Excellence Award from the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA); and was honored with the CEO Merit Award for Content from Virgo in 2014. Granato graduated magna cum laude from the University of Richmond, Virginia, in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism; she currently serves as a national vice president for Kappa Alpha Theta women's fraternity. heather.granato@informa.com; @HeatherGranato; in/heathergranato