Gender representation report

Source: Meat Busness Women 

Action is set to be taken by major meat suppliers following research by Meat Business Women, which revealed gender equality had fallen last year

Meat sector leaders have agreed more progress is needed to improve gender inclusion within the industry.

Speaking ahead of International Women’s Day on Friday – and following a first-of-its-kind roundtable, hosted by industry group Meat Business Women, earlier this month – leaders representing nine businesses across the meat processing, retail and foodservice supply chain pledged to redouble their efforts on improving gender equality.

Attending the roundtable meeting were leaders from ABP UK, Avara Foods, Dawn Meats, Kepak Foods, McDonalds UK & Ireland, Morrisons, Moy Park and Pilgrims Europe, OSI, and Sofina Foods Europe – all of which are partners of Meat Business Women.

The meeting follows research by the group, published last year, which revealed only 8% of CEO roles in the global meat sector were held by women, while the total number of women in the global workforce had dropped year on year to 33.5% from 36%. And in the unskilled workforce, the number of women had fallen from 40% to 36%.

“Reflecting on the headlines from our 2023 industry research, collectively we agreed more can be done,” said MBW global chair and founder Laura Ryan.

“It’s clear the meat industry lags behind other sectors. But it is heartening to see such ambition and commitment from senior leaders on how we tackle this important issue,” she added.

The women taking on a world of ‘meat men’

“We outlined next steps to develop actionable industry-wide initiatives to increase gender representation,” she said.

“We have agreed to bring together a working group, made up of HR leads from our strategic partners who represent businesses across the meat supply chain, who can help shape a framework that prioritises gender inclusion for organisations within the sector.”

There were “some great examples shared and discussed among those present, highlighting where we can take learnings from other sectors and programmes”, Ryan said. “It feels like we can keep up the momentum from today’s roundtable, with an action-focused HR working group being a huge step forwards to jointly affect positive change.”

Emily Deer, director at Newton Europe who are partnering with Meat Business Women on the initiative, said: “Meat Business Women has inspired us all to reflect on our own experiences, share our insights and consider how we might better work together across the industry on some actions that put gender diversity front and centre.

“Ahead of International Women’s Day, it was encouraging to develop meaningful opportunities to expedite gender equity across all meat sector businesses.”