Nicole Sheffield, managing director of data and digital at Wesfarmers, has been announced as the new president of the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) council, becoming the first woman ever to be appointed to the role.
Following the announcement, the former CEO of NewsLifeMedia said it was an honour to be elected the ARA’s first female president and that she is looking forward to working with the council.
— Paul Zahra (@paulzahra_1) February 25, 2022
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“This is a pivotal time for the retail industry with COVID continuing to impact so many businesses in terms of supply chain constraints and staff shortages,” she said.
“We need to ensure retailers are well placed to navigate the pandemic pain and economic head winds so they can capitalise on Australia’s post-COVID recovery.”
Sheffield stressed the importance of developing technology and innovation within the industry, including methods of sourcing goods and services, and looking at how the companies interact with customers.
“It’s important that businesses continue to harness the power of data and digital as retail continues to evolve,” she said.
“As ARA president I am committed to being a strong advocate for all retailers and look forward to working with the council and CEO on ensuring the ARA remains a powerful and united voice for the industry.”
Other appointments to the ARA council have been made in the past week, including Retail Prodigy Group co-founder and CEO Stephen Younane as vice president of the council, and Krista Diez-Simson and Josephine Barbaro as council members.
The ARA said the latest appointments demonstrate the association’s commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion, with the ARA council now reflecting equal representation of women.
Other female council members recently appointed include Katie McNamara, chief strategy and customer officer at Super Retail Group, and Maria McCarthy, general manager of corporate affairs at Bunnings.
According to CEO Paul Zahra, the ARA Council is now 60% female and 76% of all ARA employees are women.
“I’m confident [Sheffield] will make an outstanding contribution to the ARA and our broader retail community,” Zahra said in a statement.
“Diversity, equality and inclusion are core issues for us at the ARA and the council’s equal representation of women reflects the strong commitment we have in this space and to delivering better outcomes in the retail industry more broadly.”
“We’ve already established our Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Advisory Committee, which is our platform for change, bringing together a coalition of influential retail leaders to advocate this agenda.”
Sheffield will take over the presidency from Rowan Hodge, CEO of Andersens Flooring, who steps down after four years as ARA president, although he will continue as a council member.
“Around 34% of ASX 200 board roles are filled by women, and while there’s a long way to go to ensure equal representation in that regard, the ARA aims to lead by example,” said Zahra, who is an ambassador for the 30% Club Australia.
“The new ARA council represents retailers of all shapes and sizes with vast networks across the country.”
“These roles reflect the commitment of the individuals, and the retail organisations behind them, to making a community contribution, with the council members serving on a pro bono basis. We are grateful for their expertise and support in driving an ambitious vision for our sector. My congratulations again to the new appointments.”
This article was first published by Women’s Agenda.