In recent weeks you’ve probably heard that Melissa Joan Hart is the new spokeswoman for Nutrisystem. You may have even seen their five-day sample kits on the end caps at Walmart. What you may have heard less about is their new CEO, a woman worthy of being known. Dawn Zier assumed her new role in November and in doing so became Nutrisystem’s first female chief.
The timing for such a transition couldn’t be better with the resurgence of women’s rights discussions lead in part by Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, something Zier planned to read on an upcoming vacation. As Sandberg discusses at length in her book, Zier also acknowledged a hard work ethic, managing priorities, and having great mentors along the way to help her achieve this breakthrough role.
Breakthrough because there aren’t a lot of women sharing that CEO status with her. The Fortune 500 only lists 21 female CEOs, or 4.2 percent of the total list. That’s one more woman than the US Senate. Amongst ten of the largest diet brands, she’s only the third woman to sit as the chief executive, joined by peers Dana Fiser at Jenny Craig and Elise Donahue at South Beach Diet. Weight Watchers, Medifast, Bistro MD, Atkins, Biggest Loser Resort, Retrofit, and even Jillian Michaels all have male CEOs.
“We need, as a company, to understand the female perspective,” Zier told me in a recent interview. We say, the entire industry needs to better understand the female perspective since 80 percent of its consumers are, in fact, women. Now, better than ever, Nutrisystem is primed to do so and in a way their competitors may miss out on with the gaping discrepancy between male brand leadership and female consumers.
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