When Shelly Higgins, CEO of Savor Seasonings, began attending snack industry events in the late 1980s, men occupied nearly every leadership role and guest speaker spotlight. And that was simply the status quo.
But things are changing.
“Now, when we go to conferences, a lot of the company leaders and guest speakers are women,” Higgins says. “Things have definitely changed.”
Historically, men have occupied a majority of leadership roles across most businesses and industries. In 1995, for example, zero women held CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies. (That number rose to an all-time high of ten percent in 2023.) And the snack industry saw similar trends, with men holding most leadership roles. But that trend is shifting, especially in the snack industry.
Savor Seasonings is leading the industry by cultivating a company culture that empowers female leaders. And the entire company is benefiting.
Women in Major Leadership Roles
When Higgins became CEO of Savor Seasonings in 2018, the company became a certified woman-owned business. A major accomplishment. But they didn’t stop there. Higgins empowered other women to take on leadership roles within the company. Under Higgins’ guidance, Samantha Caudill earned the role of Chief Operating Officer.
Now allowing a majority of the senior leadership positions to be held by women at Savor Seasonings.
“It’s not common to have this number of women in leadership in the industry,” Caudill says. “We have incredible, talented women in leadership roles within our company.”
These women serve alongside men on the Savor Seasonings leadership team, sharing fresh ideas and making decisions that shape the company’s future on a daily basis. And these decisions continue to improve not only the company’s results, but their workplace culture.
Strength through Different Perspectives
With more perspectives comes better ideas. In order to get the most innovative ideas and the best results, the leadership team at Savor Seasonings certainly aims to put as many perspectives in the room as possible.
“Women being a big part of our leadership team in recent years has driven some of the variety of flavors and products that we’re seeing,” Higgins says. “The women that we have working for us right now are very gifted, and so are the men. It has been so refreshing to see them working together and coming up with better solutions by seeing different points of view.”
One of those viewpoints comes through the act of grocery shopping and food selection. With women doing about 80 percent of household grocery shopping, it benefits a seasoning manufacturing company to have women involved in decision making. Without these women in leadership positions, Savor Seasonings knows they’d miss out on valuable insight.
This insight through multiple perspectives has led to growth in workplace culture, business results, and leadership development. And it all stems from using each team member’s strengths and perspectives to achieve a common goal.
“The person in charge can't know it all,” Caudill says. “We all bring gifts and talents to the table. Men and women have different viewpoints, each leader has different strengths. We all have to work together to empower each other and grow together.”
Family-Oriented Workplace Culture
Savor Seasonings dedication to empowering female leaders has fostered a company culture that focuses on the whole person, the whole employee. With so many working mothers and fathers on the team, family life stands as a priority. And workplace benefits, like flexible PTO and workplaces therapists, have become an ingrained part of Savor Seasonings culture.
“With more women on the leadership team, the trend of focusing on the whole person has become even stronger,” Higgins says. “Some of us are more people-driven. Others are more results-driven. And it takes positive collaboration to achieve that perfect balance.”
Many female leaders and employees understand that people need to find a balance between home life and work life in order to bring their best effort to work each and every day. The Savor Seasonings leadership team has made a conscious effort to develop a work environment that genuinely priorities both.
“We’ve created an environment where we can be passionate about family and work, an environment where you can do both,” Caudill says. “And this balance doesn’t make you weak. It actually makes you strong. When you have someone in leadership who understands that, it makes a difference.”
Savor Seasonings has taken major strides toward empowering female leaders, but they aren’t done. The Savor Seasonings leadership team has seen the value that female leaders bring to the company, and they aim to continue that dedication to empowerment.
“There are more significant challenges for women to get into a leadership role, but there are resources available, organizations to help women succeed,” Higgins says. “Our industry is becoming more diverse with female leaders, and you feel a sense of support and validation when organizations speak to the challenges that women face.”
While challenges for female leaders exist, strong networks of support continue to empower women to enhance their leadership potential. And Savor Seasonings’ current female leaders understand the power in their roles.
“I’m in a position where I can empower growth,” Caudill says. “We need the whole team to succeed, and we can’t do it on our own. Current leaders can empower up-and-coming leaders, and they will be the ones who propel us into the future.”
Through continued efforts to empower women leaders, companies will discover what Savor Seasonings already knows: we all improve with more perspectives in the room.