17 Mar 2023
by Meat Business Women

Gender balance at senior level in meat industry sees improvement, but total number of women in global workforce has dropped

A new independent, global report commissioned by Meat Business Women has shown that the meat industry has made progress in shifting the dial of women’s representation in senior leadership roles since the initial ground-breaking report was published in 2020.

Women now make up 23% of board-level director roles (up from 14%), 32% of high-level leadership roles (up from 22%) and 32% of middle-manager roles (up from 29%).

The 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.

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

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 shows 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 says “The data tells us 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. Whilst there is greater disparity in the industry than there was in 2020, there is a huge opportunity for further pre-competitive working on best practices and key workforce policy issues. There has never been a more important time to remember that a rising tide lifts all boats.”

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.

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

The report draws 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. The report was launched during the Meat Business Women UK & Ireland conference which took place in London on Wednesday May 17.

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.