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Australian agribusiness takes action on gender diversity

A new initiative by the National Farmers' Federation (NFF) aims to be transformational for the inclusion of women in the leadership ranks of agribusiness and farm representative bodies.

Led by the first female President of the National Farmers’ Federation, Fiona Simson the Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program (DiALP), is asking Australia’s leading agribusinesses to pledge to improve their gender diversity.

“Women have been the backbone of farming since agriculture began in our nation,” Fiona said.

“However, the fact remains, female representation on farm is not matched in the senior ranks and around the board tables of our farm representative organisations and agribusinesses, and our industry is poorer for it.”

Unsurprisingly, a priority for Fiona is to ensure there is a strong line up of women ready to contend for positions like President of the farm sector’s peak body into the future.

“When I take a look around the organisations advocating on behalf of farmers and agribusinesses servicing our industry, there is a distinct lack of female representation.

“I believe this is out of step with actual farm businesses, the vast majority of which are family owned and where women absolutely play an equal role.”

Through the DiALP, NFF is providing agribusinesses the opportunity to audit their gender diversity and to commit to making meaningful change towards evening the gender ledger.

The DiALP will also provide mentoring opportunities to aspiring female leaders.

“We will be accessing the talent of our agribusiness partners to mentor leaders who apply to be a part of the program.

“Graduates of the mentoring program will go on to make up an alumni of female leaders with a knowledge of agriculture and a passion for the sector.”

NFF is working with Adam Fennessy in his capacity as a member of the Male Champions of Change national network.  Adam is a partner with professional services firm EY.

“DiALP is a fantastic opportunity for agriculture’s business community to show leadership in ensuring women are equally represented around board tables and other key decision-making forums,” Adam said.

“The benefits of increased gender diversity are well recognised.

“Diversity in all its forms brings differing views to all aspects of business management from investment, risk, managing people and understanding stakeholders. Increasing diversity in agricultural management through increased female representation is not only the right thing to do, it also makes sound business and strategic sense.”

The opportunity now exists for agribusinesses to join the Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program. For more information contact Laureta Wallace lwallace@nff.org.au or 0408 448 250 or see here.

A word from DiALP Partners

AgriFutures Australia

Chair, Kay Hull said the DiALP would allow AgriFutures to build on its already strong foundation of supporting gender diversity in the farm sector.

“Through the Rural Women’s’ Award, agriculture has a proud history of celebrating rural and regional women.

“We are excited to partner with NFF and the agribusiness sector to continue to foster the leadership aspirations of women in agriculture.”

Australian Agricultural Company

AACo Chief Executive Officer Hugh Killen said AACo employed many females throughout its operations but had progress to make at a leadership level.

“We feel strongly about ensuring equal opportunity for all individuals, across our entire business.”

“Outstanding female leaders are continuously emerging throughout the agribusiness sector. AACo is proud to be a DiALP partner to provide emerging leaders with a platform for ongoing development and support.”

Monsanto Australia

“Diversity and inclusion among our workforce is central to the way we do business.

“We have worked hard to achieve equal representation of gender on our leadership team and our business benefits from the diversity of thought at the table,” Monsanto Australia, Managing Director Tony May said.

“Through DiALP we will formally commit to continuing this balance and to continuing to grow our focus on diversity.

“We are looking forward to sharing experiences with other leading agribusinesses about ways in which we can all continue to promote and ensure diversity and inclusion is a fundamental part of the success of our industry.”

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