Agri-businesses more aware of gender and racial equality

Agri-businesses are becoming more inclusive in terms of gender and racial diversity, but while awareness of equality in the sector is growing there is still more to be done, a new survey has found.

The Women in Food and Agriculture (WFA) survey, which attracted 3,200 responses from 80 countries, aimed to assess how the events and challenges brought by 2020 impacted the industry and asked where agribusinesses across the globe are measuring on the scale of gender and diversity.

While 64 per cent of respondents believe their organisation is becoming more inclusive, the figure has dropped from 79 per cent in the 2019 survey. Olympia Theocharous, head of content for WFA, said: “We suspect these figures demonstrate a feeling that our industry could do so much more to address issues associated with inequality, but it is positive that there is more awareness of the issues.

“We at WFA hope to support companies and the wider sector in making positive steps in this area.” After a year like no other when home working became the norm, the survey, launched in partnership with Alltech, also gauged how the pandemic impacted on companies’ approach to flexible working and the potential impact on women’s careers going forward.

A quarter of women working in food and agriculture (26 per cent) are the primary caregiver for children the majority of the time while working from home, as opposed to just 8 per cent of men.

When asked if their organisation offered flexible work hours before Covid-19, 46 per cent said yes, 28 per cent said no and 26 per cent said sometimes.

Fifty-four per cent of organisations were offering flexible working hours before Covid-19, as opposed to just two in five larger companies.

When asked if they were currently working from home due to Covid-19, over half of respondents said yes (52 per cent).

Asked how the pandemic had affected their mental health, 28 per cent of men agreed, while the figure rose to 48 per cent for women.

On equal pay, 82 per cent of men and 54 per cent of women agreed that men and women are compensated equally for similar roles at their organisation.

Asked about career advancement, men are significantly more likely (66 per cent) to believe there are opportunities within their organisation for advancement, compared to 52 per cent of women.

While over two-thirds of men (71 per cent) agree women are well represented in the leadership of their organisation, only about half of women agree (52 per cent).

When compared to WFA’s 2019 survey results, 65 per cent of men and 50 per cent of women agreed, showing some positive change.

Ms Theocharous added: “This campaign is not about giving women special treatment or an unfair advantage, but about ensuring we have the facts and skills required to create a level playing field in the food and agriculture industry.”

More on the barriers faced by women

Over two-thirds of women agree (70 per cent) that a lack of female role models is a barrier faced by women in the industry, as opposed to just half of men (49 per cent).

Over two-thirds of women agree (68 per cent) that gender bias in the workplace is a barrier faced by women in the industry, as opposed to less than two in five men (38 per cent).

Twice as many women as men agree that lack of equal pay for the same skill and experience is a barrier faced by women in the industry (60 per cent versus 30 per cent).

Women in Food and Agriculture (WFA) is a global movement which promotes gender diversity across the agribusiness supply chain.