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Make no mistake: In mass retailing, as in other fields of endeavor, this is truly the Age of the Woman.

Forget the stories that name the 10, 20 or even 50 most important women in mass retailing.

Women have gone far beyond that. Indeed, they have come to exert an impact on the mass retailing community at all levels that far exceeds their numbers. More than that, they now wield an influence equal in many respects to the power long held by men. Moreover, they are using that influence to increase the leverage of the companies, both retailer and supplier, for which they work.

So it is that the chief executive officer of CVS Health graces the cover of the Fortune magazine issue that features the 500 largest corporations in the U.S. and elsewhere. So it is, too, that thousands of Walgreens staffers wonder, silently or aloud, why their CEO, also a woman, isn’t on the cover instead.

So it is, as well, that until recently Rite Aid, America’s third-largest drug chain, was led by a woman. Then too, that drug chain still hasn’t completely recovered from the departure, a year ago, of the woman who headed merchandising and marketing at that address.

But the influence of women in mass retailing goes far beyond the chain drug community. At Kroger, the president of the Kroger Health unit is a woman whose intelligence, personality, clear thinking and risk-taking ability make her the equal of any man in that segment. Meanwhile, the departure of a longtime senior executive from Wegmans, arguably the most accomplished food retailer in America, has created disbelief and shock waves throughout that retailing segment that remain unresolved. However, that departure has been mitigated to some considerable extent by the fact that that exemplary retailer continues to be led and staffed by some of the most talented staffers (women, of course) in all of retailing.

Indeed, the impact of women can be readily seen and felt in the discount retailing segment as well. Both Walmart and Target, to cite two obvious examples, include capable women throughout their staffs and on into the senior management levels. At other mass merchants, the story is much the same.

The case for the power of women extends to the supplier community as well. Indeed, the president of Haleon doubles, in her free time, as chairman of the board of one of mass retailing’s premier trade associations. It needn’t be added that the respect she has earned, and truly deserves, rivals that of any senior executive, retailer or supplier, working in mass retailing today.

Want another example? Look no further than Hallmark, America’s premier greeting card company. The public face of Hallmark, the person who many people think of first when they think of the Kansas City organization, think of a woman. That thought, and the respect that accompanies it, is thoroughly warranted.

This discourse, and the warm regard with which it is written, by no means stops with these few individuals. Indeed, mass retailing, once the almost exclusive province of men, has been gracefully and productively invaded by the female of the species. To state that this invasion is overdue is to state the obvious. To further state that our industry is the better for the influx of capable women is to, again, state the obvious. And to conclude that this is only the beginning is to frankly put forth the obvious: It’s about time.