The Women of Food and Agriculture

From the barn to the boardroom, women play a crucial role in the global business of food and agriculture. Which is why when research showed that women are acutely under-represented in management roles throughout the industry, it seemed imperative to examine and uncover the gender gap—and reveal the incredible stories of the women who work to feed the world.

Women engaged throughout the supply chain understand the unique challenges of operating in this traditionally male-dominated business. In fact, the food and agriculture industry has been comparatively slow in adapting to changing workforce dynamics.

The case for empowering women in leadership roles is not only built on the foundation of morality and principles of equality, but also by proven economic success bolstered by inclusion and diversity. The World Economic Forum estimates it may take another 200 years or more to close the economic gender gap globally—despite the understanding that greater equality leads to better economic performance. Data from the WEF suggests that economic gender parity could add an additional $250 billion to the GDP of the United Kingdom, $1,750 billion to the United States and $2.5 trillion to China’s GDP.

Data collected by Pew Research Center shows just 4.8 percent of Fortune 500 company CEOs are female. The share of women sitting on the boards of Fortune 500 companies is about 22 percent—and while this figure has more than doubled since 1995, it is still astonishingly low. Additionally, 60 percent of women say gender discrimination is a major obstacle to female leadership in business, with 44 percent of men in agreement.

This disparity in leadership has the potential to significantly impact the future of food as the industry loses out on innovative ideas and advancements from female thought leaders. The need for diversification and enhanced perspectives is especially pronounced given the rapidly changing landscape of food and agriculture. Ever-present industry challenges like food security, increasing investor influence, consumer demand for corporate and social responsibility, and unstable global trade relationships further substantiate the need to expand and diversify talent in order to feed a growing population. Women in food and agriculture have an important story to tell—and a huge role to play in the future of food production.

On March 8th, International Women’s Day, AgriBriefing is launching the Women in Food and Agriculture campaign, culminating in a year-end conference that will connect, empower, and enlighten both men and women in all aspects of agribusiness. Over the next several months, we will share the stories of real women working around the globe in all segments of the food supply chain—highlighting their successes, their struggles, their strategies, and their strength.

Join us in Amsterdam on December 3-4, 2019, as we host this historic global event. Visit www.wfasummit.com to learn more.