In 2019, Women in Food and Agriculture (WFA) launched the first of its kind, industry-wide survey, aiming to highlight the current state of gender equality in the industry and what is needed to bring about transformative progress to benefit women throughout food and ag. Bringing together over 2,500 men, women and nonbinary respondents from across global agricultural and food supply chains from smallholder farmers to the CEOs of large agrifood businesses, the survey helped WFA gather a range of data from the representation of women on executive boards to the number of promotions they have received. In 2020, the second WFA Survey saw participation increase to over 3,200 diverse respondents from across the industry answering similar questions to see if there was a shift from the previous year. The survey also picked up on global developments, asking questions related to the impact of COVID-19 on both men and women in the workplace.
Now the WFA 2022 Survey presents an opportunity to track D&I progress across the sector and how the industry is evolving post COVID-19, so representatives from across the global food and ag sector are invited to help work towards equality by taking part.
How your experiences can shape the industry for future generations
The WFA 2022 Survey provides everyone with an opportunity to heighten their awareness of gender inequalities, benchmark their companies and shape the industry for the next generation of leaders. By providing this space for sector representatives to share their individual experience and expertise, the survey will highlight areas for improvement in the industry and lead the charge on progressing gender equality in food and ag. Those who take part in the survey will have access to data and insights in June that will lead to improvements in decision-making, help those in food and ag to assess how their organisation’s measure up to competitors, cultivate a more inclusive working environment for staff and lead to a better business performance overall.
Historically the WFA team have compared the responses of women and men as they have received enough responses from these groups to be statistically significant. Reviewing the current experiences of both men and women in the industry plays a crucial role in tackling gender stereotypes, inequalities and breaking down barriers in our sector. As WFA’s Head of Content, Ollie Theocharous explained, “Every year we ask more and more participants from all genders to take part to make sure our data is improving. It is vital that we do this work, so everyone can understand the challenges in value chains and learn what they need to do within their own businesses to improve gender equality. We are asking everyone from the global food and ag sector to take 5-minutes out of their day to do their bit to drive equality in food and ag.”
The significant barriers facing women in the sector
Data is crucial to identifying barriers and problems that must be addressed in our industry. Results collected from our 2019 survey revealed unsettling statistics regarding sexual harassment in the workplace and highlighted clear differences in the experiences of men and women. We learnt that 48% of women vs 18% of men had witnessed or experienced sexist comments. Similarly, the data also revealed that every two-out-of-five women had witnessed or been the target of a sexist comment and one-in-five suffered verbal sexual harassment. Other barriers to the progression of women identified include: a lack of mentors for women, unequal pay for women and men with the same skillset and experience and gender biases in the workplace. In terms of the way women are perceived in the workplace our 2020 survey revealed that 62% of women compared with 53% of men had their judgement questioned in their area of expertise. Similarly, our 2020 survey revealed that only 52% of women compared 71% of men agreed that women are well-respected within their organisations. From this data it is clear we are seeing disparities in perceptions of workplace culture and the experiences of men and women across the industry.
While 64% of respondents in 2020 agreed that their organisation is becoming more inclusive, significant barriers limiting progress for women in the sector must be identified and monitored so opportunities for change can be developed. For businesses wanting to support gender equality, how can leaders ensure they are creating a level playing field and an inclusive culture where both men and women can grow to their full potential? This is where collecting and understanding data comes in…
The important role allyship plays in data
Allyship is all about people of different genders, racial backgrounds, social classes, ages and levels of experience working together as advocates for change. Through the support of representatives from all backgrounds in the food and ag sector, WFA are able to gather data that discovers differences in the experiences of people working in food and agribusinesses around the world.
Through this support from allies striving for equality, the survey results highlight the need to prioritise gender equality targets from entry-level roles to senior positions in organisations across the global food and ag industry. “WFA have ambitions to continue measuring D&I progress on a global scale”, Ollie Theocharous added. “We recognise that we can only achieve this through the knowledge gained from the experiences of individuals in the food and ag sector that’s why the industry needs you!”
What does the future hold for D&I progress in the food and ag industry and what positive changes are on the horizon for 2022? Help WFA to track transformative changes in the sector and get involved in developing a more inclusive future for the leaders of tomorrow.
Take part in the WFA 2022 Industry survey here: https://wfa-initiative.com/survey/
*The statistic used in the headline was found in our 2020 survey.