Are women fairly represented in the food and agriculture industry?

AgriBriefing’s Women in Food and Agriculture initiative, launched earlier this year to promote the role of women across the agribusiness supply chain, has announced the release of an industry-wide survey, in conjunction with Alltech.
calendar icon 4 December 2019
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With the global population projected to rise to more than 9 billion by 2050 and the demand for food expected to jump sharply, the need for value gained through accessing all available talent assumes greater urgency than before.

The aim throughout the initiative has been to highlight the current state of our industry. This 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. As WFA Advisory Board member Judith Batchelor, Director of Brand at Sainsbury’s Supermarkets says, women should not get special treatment, “but when you know the system is failing, what are you going to do differently to break the status quo?”.

Conducted in October 2019, the results catalogue the opinions and experiences of over 2,500 employees working in food and agriculture business around the world. The results have been reviewed by AgriBriefing’s own journalists, with additional data analysis by independent market research consultants Savanta ComRes.

The report showcases the differences in opinions between men and women, how women perceive their employers, workplace culture and what our industry believe are the barriers holding women back.

Elisabeth Mork-Eidem, Group Event Director at AgriBriefing commented: “The aim of the survey was to explore the current situation regarding gender diversity in agricultural organisations across the whole agricultural supply chain. The survey results shine an interesting light on how the industry is perceived from those who work in it, and shows that there is still work to be done to remove barriers. The industry still needs to act on gender diversity and the benefit will be stronger business outcomes.”


We asked participants to select some of the biggest barriers they faced in progressing their career in food and agriculture.

farmer sitting in tractor smiling at camera

On equal pay more than half of all women agreed equal pay was an issue, compared to a third of men. Women working in ag-tech cited lack of mentors as a barrier to progression more frequently than most, women working in trading agreed the least.

Mark Lyons, CEO of Alltech said “We need to create an environment for facilitating conversations; where female mentors can be sought, and to establish programmes within our organisations that facilitate mentorships.”

For the most part however, the survey shows that the industry is making great progress and employees are feeling positive about the future. 58 percent feel that women are well-represented in the industry and 79 percent agree that their organisation is becoming more inclusive.

The results of the survey were presented by Mark Lyons, CEO of Alltech at the Women in Food and Agriculture Summit in Amsterdam on 3-4 December 2019.

Over 300 senior executives from global agribusinesses, food and retail companies attended this global premier summit from all parts of the world. Bringing together some of world’s leading thinkers, practitioners and academics from top firms in the agricultural and food sector, this extraordinary event covered a host of crucial issues and focused on how agribusinesses, farms, food and retail companies can work together, maximise business efficiency, challenge, inspire and shape sustainable future of the industry.

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