Female brewery worker

Source: Unsplash

Businesses need to gather more data separated by gender, and support their supply chain partners to do the same

Women are well represented in some sectors of the fmcg industry. But in others, they are not.

According to recent data, while women make up 44% of the global workforce in the agriculture sector, they represent just 21% of manager positions. Gender gaps exist in promotions, in representation on worker committees, in pay, and in many other critical areas, preventing gender equality.

Work needs to be done to create a fairer, more gender-balanced workforce throughout the fmcg supply chain. Every business in the industry can contribute to actively support, promote and progress women in both their own operations and their supply chains. But it is together that fmcg companies have the greatest capacity to drive change and progress towards equality, through collaborative commitment, industry-wide targets and shared initiatives.

Building better visibility of women in the supply chain

The first step for improving gender diversity and equality throughout the fmcg supply chain is to gain full visibility of women’s experiences and situations at work, including the areas where they are under-represented. Having this data enables companies to make informed decisions to address the gaps in representation, and the different workplace barriers that disproportionately affect women.

Many companies are already gathering this data at an individual level, including data from their suppliers, but this data is inconsistent and incomplete. For example, our research shows that while 92% of work sites split manager positions data by gender, just 7% segment data on grievances in this way. This means that work sites don’t know whether the proportions of men and women raising grievances reflects the gender split of their workforce. They also have lesser understanding of the differences in challenges for women and for men.

Businesses need to gather more data separated by gender, and support their supply chain partners to do the same. To begin with, the sector as a whole could commit to collecting gender-disaggregated data across seven key indicators: management, supervisor roles, administrator roles, wages, worker committees, promotions and grievances.

These indicators are recognised by sustainable business organisation BSR as reflecting key business areas where women face barriers, such as leadership and professional development.

By sharing insights around gender gaps in their organisations and supply chains, the fmcg industry can gain a sector-wide perspective of the gaps between men and women.

The industry can then collaborate to agree shared goals and standards, and promote these collectively with shared suppliers. For example, setting industry-wide targets for improving the proportion of women in supervisor positions throughout the supply chain, or collectively supporting and developing training for suppliers on being more socially inclusive employers.

By working together, organisations can tackle gender gaps at work that result from social gender norms in different countries and regions. Multiple buying businesses can work together to make requests from shared suppliers, such as requesting more work site data be sub-categorised by gender.

It’s only by gaining full visibility of gender through data on female workers in the supply chain, committing to shared targets, and working with like-minded organisations at all levels of the supply chain, that we will see a true shift towards gender diversity and equality in the fmcg industry globally.