Agriculture’s heavyweights commit to getting gender balance right

Australian agriculture’s most influential organisations have today called time on the lack of women in leadership positions within the industry.

Banks; agribusiness; superannuation and insurance agencies; pastoralists; and input providers have joined rural research and development corporations and farm representative bodies to pledge to make ‘meaningful change’ on moving the dial on female representation.

The 2019 Diversity in Agricultural Leadership Program Partners are: the National Farmers’ Federation, AgForce, Australian Agricultural Company, AgriFutures, Australian Community Media, Bayer, BASF, Coles, Consolidated Pastoral Company, Elders, Grains Research and Development Corporation, National Broadband Network, NSW Farmers, Landmark, Nufarm, Prime Super, Rabobank, Rimfire Resources, Rural Bank, Ruralco, Syngenta, WFI and Wine Australia.

Their commitments are the cornerstone of the National Farmers’ Federations’ Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program, an initiative of the NFF’s first female President Fiona Simson to see more women realise their agriculture leadership ambitions. 

“Women have been intrinsic to the success of agriculture since farming began in this country,” Ms Simson said.

“Today, overall 41% of the farm sector’s workforce is female. However, only 18% of management roles and 2.3% of CEO positions in agriculture are held by women.

“Our voice continues to be almost silent around the board tables and in the leadership ranks of the industry of which we have given, and continue to give, so much to,” Ms Simson said.

In their commitment to change, the partners of the Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program have outlined intentions that include addressing board gender composition, flexible work arrangements for men and women and the active recruitment of female leaders. 

“Partners understand that in 2019, it is no longer acceptable, or effective to have senior decision making made almost entirely by one gender,” Ms Simson said.

“This situation doesn’t reflect real life and it blatantly ignores the great results that are achieved when men and women work together.” 

“To change this the NFF and our partners have picked up the baton and set our sights on transformational change.”

Ms Simson said the appointment of the first female Federal Agriculture Minister this week was momentous.

“The gravity of Senator Bridget McKenzie’s appointment can’t be ignored.

“We must acknowledge our first female Agriculture Minister and commit to each playing our role in ensuring the path laid by Senator McKenzie, is well worn by many others after her. 

As part of the Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program, 10 outstanding women with skills and a vision for agriculture, are in Canberra this week for an introductory retreat to kick off a five-month mentoring experience to further their leadership aspirations. 

The women were selected from more than 150 applicants from across the country, who all put their hand up to be a part of change. The group met with Minister Mckenzie, on her first full day in office. 


On her first full day in office, Agriculture Minister, Bridget Mckenzie (fourth from left) met with the 10 participants in 2019 NFF's Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program, during their introductory retreat in Canberra. From left Kelly Pearce, WA; Linda Lee, NT; Rachel Carson VIC; Natalie Sommerville, SA; Alison Southwell, NSW; Allison Harker, NSW; Cathy Oates, WA; Jacqui Cannon; QLD and Leonie O'Driscoll, NSW. Absent Robbie Davis, SA.

Ms Simson said the NFF had identified the need for more in women in the senior roles of Australian agriculture as a key ingredient in the industry’s plan to achieve $100 billion in farm gate out by 2030.

“Meaningful change that gives women an equal voice in the positions of power that shape the future of agriculture is well overdue in a modern society and one that is needed if agriculture as a whole is to reach its $100 billion potential,” Ms Simson. 

See the Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program’s Partner pledges below.



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1 comment

  • With regard to the need for more women in senior rolls in Australian agriculture I would like all who are interested in this subject to view: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gq72nkHJFAw It is Dr Jordan Peterson and he may surprise you with what he has to say based on the research that has been done all over the world.
    Secondly, achieving $100 billion at farm gate is achievable and inherently simplistic, of course Australian agriculture can achieve that objective.
    What the objective should be and I invite comment, is that Australian agriculture achieve $100 billion at farm gate and makes a profit.
    We have been on a productivity binge for too long. How about we now go on a profitability binge?

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