International Women’s Day – C&C Group

Celebrating the influential women across convenience

Mhairi Ross, channel director – off-trade route to market & convenience at C&C Group.

This post was written in collaboration with C&C Group.

Mhairi Ross, channel director – off-trade route to market & convenience at C&C Group

How is diversity & inclusion a key foundation at your own organisation?

As a business, C&C Group has a really positive and visible foundation. We have a robust two-year DE&I Strategic Plan in place covering three focus areas. One of those is championing gender diversity with a plan to achieve 30% representation in leadership roles over the next two years.

Our family leave policy has also been enhanced so that all colleagues taking Maternity and Adoption leave receive 26 weeks’ paid leave. In addition, our parental leave policy means colleagues are also entitled to 7 weeks’ paid leave during the first two years of the child’s life.

We have employee led resource groups to support mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing and working parents, which are backed up by agile working policies. We’re also proud to be working in partnership with Diversity in Grocery.

Do you feel a positive culture being in place helps you cement business relationships?

When your business can display the right message, it allows other businesses to view the people that work there in the same light. From experience, people are often keen to engage and build on relationships if they trust and see similarities in their own organisations, this is why having a positive culture is so important.

Tell us about your own success story, positive experiences etc?

Having worked in the wholesale & convenience channel for 20 years (I feel old saying that!) I have had the pleasure of working with so many different types of people. This is a diverse and interesting environment as there are different personalities to learn from.

This has allowed me to gain confidence in my own style and deal with ambiguity well and create clear and concise business decisions as I’ve gotten older. I see every new relationship as an opportunity to learn and become more diverse in my thinking.

What opportunities are there for career evolution within your company?

When you stay with a business for as long as I have you start to think that the road you have left is running out and that might have been me a few years ago, then suddenly a new manager comes along with a new perspective and things start to change.

C&C has evolved a lot over the past few years and with that comes interesting opportunities. If you have a positive attitude and a desire to be part of a successful business, C&C is great at harnessing those opportunities and enabling staff to take them.

What has your experience been like as a woman working in your field?

It has been a journey. I could say I’ve dealt with every type of challenge during business situations, experiences that have empowered me but also ones that have left me feeling tiny.

Thankfully, my positive experiences massively outweigh my negative ones. I’m a pragmatic person and always manage to see situations for what they are rather than blowing them out of proportion.

As I have been in the same industry for a long time, I have really grown up in my adult life working closely with people and businesses, which in a weird way feels comforting and supportive.

Can I say it’s been easy? Not in the slightest – as a woman I tried to shy away from showing my personal life too much. I thought that if I spoke about my family or kids too much people would disengage with me and see me as weak. I would also say the industry today for women is a very different environment to what it was over 10 years ago, in a very positive way.

What challenges have you overcome in the past in this regard?

One of the biggest realisations is that not everyone wants to challenge or debate. In the past I went into situations with a guard up or even with a defence against what I thought people were going to throw at me.

As I’ve become more confident in my knowledge and my style, I realised that if you are yourself and you show confidence and have self-belief this goes a long way.

What experiences have your female clients had (positive or negative) within retail, if this is something you can share with us?

I am lucky to have worked with some leading woman in wholesale, who I regard as important people in the trade. They have guided me, been a constant champion but also called me out and challenged me, which has been so powerful in my growth. I would love to think I can do the same for the woman I work with in the trade.


Click here to read more about the inspiring and influential women working across the convenience retail sector.