Save Mart Named No. 1 Grocery Employer for Women

Whole Foods, H-E-B, Trader Joe’s, Publix also make Forbes’ annual ranking
Photograph courtesy of Save Mart

With a focus to “develop career paths for women seeking leadership positions,” the Save Mart Cos. has been named to Forbes’ annual list of America’s Best Employers for Women for 2020. Coming in at No. 35 overall nationwide, the Modesto, Calif.-based retailer was ranked the No. 1 grocer in the country for women.

The third annual award, presented by Forbes and Statista Inc., surveyed 75,000 Americans, including 45,000 women, working for businesses that employ more than 1,000 workers. The employees were surveyed in March and April 2020 at the start of the pandemic. The respondents, who represented 31 industries, were asked to share their opinions on a variety of statements about company culture, opportunities for advancement, salary, diversity and more.

“Culturally, the Save Mart Cos. has been a great place for women to work for more than 70 years, instituted by company founders Nick Tocco and Mike Piccinini, and advanced by Bob Piccinini, and continued today under the leadership of CEO Nicole Pesco,” Save Mart VP of Human Resources Lee Debra Gelb told WGB in an email interview. “We are humane in our processes and policies, and putting people first means we do what’s best both for our people and for the business. Our actions are driven by our ‘people first’ values.”

In addition to providing feedback on their own company cultures, women participating in the Forbes/Statista survey were asked to evaluate other employers in their industries that stand out either positively or negatively with regard to gender issues.

“The Save Mart Cos. has created a workplace that fosters professional development and enables all employees to excel, and an environment that recognizes each employee as a ‘whole person,’ and encourages them to authentically balance work with home,” added Gelb. “Our focus is to develop career paths for women seeking leadership positions at the company.”  

Pesco, Save Mart’s CEO, is a woman who grew up in the grocery business and worked her way up from service clerk to roles of increasing responsibility. Most recently, she was co-president and chief strategy and branding officer, where she oversaw marketing, merchandising strategies and strategic execution.

The company credits Pesco’s passion for food and customer service to “changing the way The Save Mart Cos. operates,” as well as the successful design, development and launch of Save Mart’s Lucky California store in the Bay Area in July 2015. The new concept store was the grocer’s first in more than 20 years.

“The Save Mart Cos. has long been committed to inclusivity and cultivating a culture that supports women,” said Pesco, in a statement. “It’s a privilege to be included among the companies on this list and to be recognized by Forbes as a top employer for women.

Several other grocers made this year’s Forbes Best Employers for Women list, including Whole Foods Market (No. 39 overall, No. 2 grocer), H-E-B (No. 82 overall, No. 3 grocer), Trader Joe’s (No. 130 overall, No. 4 grocer), and Publix (No. 169 overall, No. 5 grocer).


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