Laura Ryan

Meat Business Women global chair Laura Ryan: ‘Meat industry needs more visible role models’

A major global campaign supported by leading meat businesses aims to challenge gender stereotypes and encourage more women to join the meat sector.

‘She Looks Like Me’, devised by industry group Meat Business Women, will showcase the breadth of roles and career options that exist in the meat supply chain and feature images and video testimony from women who work in the global meat industry.

Described by MBW as a “first of its kind” for the industry, the campaign launched this week and will be shown across social and digital channels, including LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, throughout 2021.

It has been backed by MBW supporters including major processors such as ABP, Cranswick, Dunbia, Hilton Food Group, 2 Sisters, Moy Park, Pilgrims UK and Kepak.

The launch follows research by MBW last October that showed just 5% of global meat industry CEO positions were held by women. Drawing on data from 60 companies with a combined total of 50,000 staff, it also revealed women made up just 36% of the total meat industry’s workforce and just 14% of board-level positions.

MBW said the campaign would aim to put a human face on the sector at a time when it faced increased public scrutiny and pressure to become more diverse.

“To attract and retain more female talent, the meat industry needs more visible role models and to showcase a wider variety of roles,” said MBW global chair Laura Ryan.

“Many people still think working in the meat industry means being a farmer or working on the production line – and they often think it means being a man. By championing real women who work in our sector, ‘She Looks Like Me’ will shine a light on the meat industry in a way that’s never been done before, giving it a human – and female – face and showing the career options that exist.”

The launch of the campaign was marked with the release of a video featuring more than 50 women working for leading meat businesses around the world, including CEOs, farmers, retailers, technical, commercial and NPD managers as well as those in finance and production roles.

It will be followed by a series of ‘day in the life’ videos providing a more detailed glimpse behind the scenes of working life in the meat sector. The first video will star M&S trading manager Hannah Thirkill.

MBW has also created a digital toolkit, including social media visuals, to help meat businesses and individuals upload their own #shelookslikeme content, humanise the jobs they do and more widely promote career opportunities in their sector. The toolkit is free of charge and available at

“We are encouraging everyone in the meat industry – businesses and individuals – to download the digital resources from the Meat Business Women website, share our campaign videos and post their own #shelookslikeme content,” Ryan added. “Help us showcase female talent and spread the word about the fantastic career opportunities in the meat sector.”

It comes as MBW this week revealed the winner of its ‘One To Watch’ award, the annual prize for emerging female talent in the meat industry.

The 2021 winner is April Dear, site development manager for the Cranswick Convenience Foods site at Sutton Fields, who was chosen for her tenacity during the Covid-19 pandemic and vision for bringing young talent into the meat industry.

Dear received a £4,000 investment into her personal development and plans to use the money to establish a cross-industry programme to engage young people in schools and inspire them to explore meat industry careers.