Recruitment: Gender balance at senior level in meat industry sees improvement 

Beef Central, 19/05/2023

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A NEW global report commissioned by the Meat Business Women organisation has shown that the meat industry has made progress in shifting the dial of women’s representation in senior leadership roles since an initial report published in 2020.

Women now make up 23 percent of board-level director roles in red meat (up from 14pc three years ago), 32pc of high-level leadership roles (up from 22pc) and 32pc of middle-management roles (up from 29pc).

The independent report highlights progress against priority themes, with positive shifts in how the industry is perceived, repaired rungs in the senior-leadership career ladder, moving inclusion up the agenda and greater access to role models and networks.

The report drew on international data from more than 50 major meat organisations employing almost 250,000 staff, in-depth interviews with senior HR and operational leaders, focus groups of women working in the industry, and survey responses from 400 women and men.

Despite progress, the research shows that only 8pc of CEO roles are held by women in the red meat industry (up by 3pc since 2020) and the number of women in the global workforce has dropped to 33.5pc (down from 36pc). Women now make up only 36pc of the unskilled workforce, falling from 40pc.

The report revealed that the gap between the most inclusive and the least inclusive meat businesses is widening.

Flexible working is ranked as the number one enabler of gender inclusion in the industry and the report suggests that to really shift the dial, women and men need to work together to create a more inclusive future.

The report sets out best practise against priority themes and provides practical tools for businesses to adopt.

Founder and global chair of Meat Business Women Laura Ryan said the data suggests that inclusion is no longer a “nice-to-have”, but rather a necessity if the meat industry is to thrive in the years to come.

“While there is greater disparity in the industry than there was in 2020, there is a huge opportunity for further pre-competitive working on best practice and key workforce policy issues. There has never been a more important time to remember that a rising tide lifts all boats,” Ms Ryan said.

“The Meat Business Women strategy has been focused on shifting the dial on the priority themes of industry perception and gender balance through global campaigns, role modelling, networking and mentoring. With these latest industry insights, Meat Business Women will continue to engage with industry leaders to attract, retain and progress talent at every level, whilst actively championing the meat industry as a positive place to build a career,” she said.

As well as benchmarking gender balance, the report showcased industry case studies and provides businesses with a proactive checklist to further drive gender inclusion.

Meat Business Women is recognised by the United Nations as a contributor to its sustainable development goal to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. This collaboration with the United Nations has culminated in the release of this second global report on gender representation, which is unique to the global meat industry.


The report is available to download at


About Meat Business Women

Meat Business Women works in partnership with more than 30 global meat businesses to remove barriers stopping women from reaching their full professional potential. It has the strategic backing of the Australian Meat Industry Council, Cranswick, Dunbia, Hilton Food Group, ABP UK, ABP Ireland & Poland, Moy Park, Linden Foods, OSI, 2 Sisters Food Group, Kepak, Coveris, Lumachain, Coles, KP, Morrisons, Cargill, JBS, Avara and Pilgrim’s UK, Australian Pork Limited and Australian Sheep Producers.









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