More than 50 women working in New Zealand's meat sector came together yesterday to discuss how to support more women to enter, and succeed, in the industry.
The event was held as part of the official Red Meat Sector Conference programme.
Minister of Rural Women's Affairs, Hon Meka Whaitiri was a keynote speaker, and set the scene at the lunch hosted by Meat Business Women New Zealand.
Whaitiri said she was there to represent the Government and to ensure it was 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."
Three panel speakers shared their experiences, with the aim of fostering opportunity for others and to address the clear barriers to entry.
Kristin Akehurst, chief financial officer, AFFCO said she had tried to be brave throughout her career and had made conscious decision to step out of her 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."
Nicola Johnston, group marketing manager for Silver Fern Farms, agreed.
"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."
Meanwhile, Alliance Group board director, Sarah Brown expressed the importance being surrounded by support.
"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 per cent of the meat industry's global workforce and hold just 5 per cent of chief executive roles, globally.
The Meat Industry Association (MIA) is a territory partner of MBW NZ, alongside Beef + Lamb New Zealand (Inc and Ltd).
Meat Industry Association chief executive, Sirma Karapeeva was 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."
"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 was also recognised by the United Nations as one of the global solutions to their Sustainable Development Goals.
Find out more information about Meat Business Women at meatbusinesswomen.org