The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has launched the results of the first agri-food industry survey into levels of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the sector.
The survey, developed by Bord Bia and Aon, captures current levels of gender diversity and inclusion in the sector in order to understand present challenges and measure progress over time.
Supported by the evidence that gender diversity delivers improved business results, the initial focus of the forum is on women in the workplace.
At middle management, men and women are equally represented. However, men are more significantly represented at Board of Director level (64%) than women (36%). Of the 16% of respondents who reported as being at junior level, 61% were female.
Senior Leaders and employees agree that a combination of increased confidence, knowledge, skill & experience, and career self-management are critical to achieving gender diversity in the agri-food sector.
“Attracting, developing and retaining the best talent is a key pillar of Food Wise 2025 and vital to deliver upon the sector’s growth, development and sustainability targets,” Minister Creed said, speaking at the launch of the survey.
“This survey is important to examine where the challenges lie for both individuals and companies within the sector to determine what steps can be taken to attract, retain and develop a diverse and inclusive agri-food sector workforce.”
The majority of CEOs (82%) believe their business is either somewhat or significantly challenged in attracting, retaining and developing staff. Key recruitment challenges were cited as salary (56%) and a lack of suitable applicants (51%). Recruiting for jobs outside of urban areas was also highlighted as being a challenge for 54% of participating organisations.
Flexible working conditions are ranked as extremely important (56%) or important (24%) by 80% of individual respondents. Family or caregiver leave was considered either extremely important or important by 62% of respondents, followed by parental leave (61%) and the provision of career breaks (58%).
The majority of CEOs (85%) reported that their companies offer flexible working conditions with 60% providing paid maternity leave. Although a lesser number of companies, at 45%, provide paid paternity leave, and only 15% are interested in learning more about it.
“Attracting, retaining and developing talent is regularly called out as a Top 10 business risk in the research we conduct at Aon,” said Ciara Jackson, Food & Agribusiness Practice Leader at Aon.
“It makes practical business sense for agri-food businesses to strive for a diverse workforce. Having a mixture of perspectives, experience and capabilities at all levels in an organisation is proven to improve business results.”
CEO of Bord Bia, Tara McCarthy said that the high level of response to the survey confirms that diversity and inclusion is an important topic for those working in the sector.
She added that agri-food companies have a strong interest in developing a diversity and inclusion strategy, but the data suggests that there is a need to assist companies to define, develop and implement these strategies.
As a result, the Forum has developed a Toolkit for the industry that includes templates and links to reliable sources of expert advice and guidance on how to implement D&I considerations into recruitment processes.
© 2018 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Aidan O’Sullivan. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.