OPINION: AHEAD OF WHAT'S NEXT
Whose of us on the editorial staff who are privileged to judge the submissions that pour in for Progressive Grocer’s annual Top Women in Grocery recognition program are often asked what constitutes a successful submission. While it’s never easy to reject a nomination — everyone is great at their job, or they wouldn’t have been put forward by their nominators in the first place — there are certain things we judges look for that set apart those we select as Top Women.
Show, Don’t Tell
Most aspiring writers are familiar with the instruction “show, don’t tell.” That’s precisely what we want in a nomination. You can sing the praises of your nominee to your heart’s content, but what we really want is concrete examples of her greatness. How did she deal with a particular problem during the time period under review, and how successful was the outcome? We want to hear all of the pertinent details, including metrics, if available. To enable us to fully appreciate the positive impact that your Top Woman has in her position and her organization, take us on a journey illustrating just how she achieved that impact.
Wider Industry and Community Service Matter
It’s always dismaying when an otherwise worthy nominee has nothing listed under the section on the nomination form asking about service to the wider food industry or to the local community. Although some nominators apparently don’t see the point of including this section, it’s not there by accident. Virtually from the beginning of the Top Women in Grocery program, this aspect has been a key part of our concept of an ideal honoree, and it’s more important now than ever. We want to pay tribute to women who truly go above and beyond in every area of their lives, not just at work. While we understand that pursuing a highly demanding career entitles a woman to a little downtime, we’ve been so incredibly inspired by nominees’ tireless efforts to uplift their colleagues, industry and fellow humans generally that we simply must share these stories. Nominators who omit such accomplishments, or fail to find out about them, are depriving their nominee of her chance to shine forth in all of her glory.
The nature of the Top Women in Grocery nomination process requires us judges to sift through hundreds of submissions across dozens of businesses, so the ones that are clearly written are particular standouts. If your business or company employs certain obscure terms of art or acronyms, please take the time to explain them; it will save judges the trouble of looking them up. More basically, make sure that the nomination gets across the necessary information in as precise a manner as possible, without typos or poorly constructed sentences; muddily written submissions replete with misspellings will often have judges scratching their heads as to what the nominator meant to convey, and as you may imagine, such nominations are usually not successful.
One more piece of advice I would offer to prospective nominators is to keep those nominations coming. Despite the work in logging and reading through all of the submissions every year, it’s a great honor to do so, and the information we judges learn about the resilience, creativity and mastery of our nominees enables us to do our part to advance women in the food industry through our recognition program and its associated event, which in 2022 will be held in person for the first time in two years.
So please continue to send us nominations of the wonderful women you work with — we couldn’t do it without either of you.
[For more of Bridget's advice on submitting nominations for Progressive Grocer's annual awards program, listen to the latest episode of the Top Women in Grocery podcast.]