As part of the official Red Meat Sector Conference programme, over 50 women working within the industry came together to discuss how to support more women to enter, and succeed, in New Zealand’s meat sector.
Keynote speaker, Minister of Rural Women’s Affairs, Hon Meka Whaitiri set the scene at the lunch hosted by Meat Business Women New Zealand, explaining that she was there to represent the New Zealand government and to ensure that they are contributing to the progression of gender and ethnic inclusivity.
“We know that women have the skills and talent to succeed. It is incumbent on all of us to support future generations of women leaders in New Zealand, and around the world, to ensure women have everything they need to move forward, with confidence and certainty, as they progress through their careers,” said Whaitiri.
Three panel speakers: Kristin Akehurst, CFO, AFFCO; Sarah Brown, Board Director, Alliance Group and Nicola Johnston, Group Marketing Manager, Silver Fern Farms took the stage to share their experiences with the aim of fostering opportunity for others and address the clear barriers to entry.
“I have tried to be brave throughout my career and have made conscious decisions to step out of my comfort zone. My initial perception of the meat industry was blown out of the water. It is incredibly dynamic and full of inspiring and passionate people. I have thrived in the environment and progressed by being courageous,” Akehurst shared.
Nicola Johnston agreed, adding: “It’s easy for people to get caught into one course of work within their career, let’s break out of that single minded pathway and not limit ourselves or our potential for excellence.”
Sarah Brown expressed the importance of having support around you: “Early on in my career I realised how important a network is. We need to be that support for our young women, our daughters, granddaughters need us to champion their growth. They are smart, organised, and future thinking and that is exactly what we need in our sector.”
The event was hosted by the New Zealand chapter of Meat Business Women (MBW), a global networking group that late last year commissioned an international report highlighting women make up just 36% of the meat industry’s global workforce and hold just 5% of chief executive roles, globally.
The Meat Industry Association (MIA) are a territory partner of MBW NZ, alongside Beef + Lamb New Zealand (Inc and Ltd), and CEO, Sirma Karapeeva is passionate about championing the strategy outlined in the report.
“One of the ways in which we can support women in the sector, is through events such as today’s lunch. It is a natural complement to the official programme of the Red Meat Sector Conference and shows the increasing diversity of our sector,” said Karapeeva.
“It’s been incredibly inspiring to hear from our speakers today. Mentoring and profiling the successes of other women, including learning from opportunities grasped and challenges overcome, helps to build both business and personal transformation within our community.”
Meat Business Women were also recognised by the United Nations as one of the global solutions to their Sustainable Development Goals.
For more information about Meat Business Women see meatbusinesswomen.org