The eight women selected in the inaugural intake of the National Farmers’ Federation Diversity in Agricultural Leadership program were welcomed by a gathering of farm sector leaders at Parliament House in Canberra yesterday.
The initiative aims at improving gender diversity in the farm sector.
“Gender is just not there yet, and our sector is all the poorer for it,” said NFF’s first female president, Fiona Simson.
A small group of agribusinesses and institutions have pledged meaningful change in the number of women in their workforce.
“Don’t think these companies have taken this step lightly. There were other companies who weren’t able to make that commitment,” Ms Simson said.
The successful candidates, who were selected from a field of more than 120, will receive mentoring from ag leaders. They met their mentors at the event.
- Amy Cosby – Willow Grove, Victoria
- Brigid Price – Injune, Queensland
- Deanna Lush – Palmer, South Australia
- Lucinda Hawkins – Dubbo, New South Wales
- Mary Retallack – Crafers West, South Australia
- Penny Schulz – Field, South Australia
- Sally Martin – Young, New South Wales
- Skye Douglass – Neumgna, Queensland
They hail from regional and urban bases acrosas the country with experience and skills in farm management, education, science, natural resource management, exporting, media and finance.
David Littleproud, who spoke to NFF’s luncheon, welcomed the initiative and said leaders can help create gender balance by fostering the right environment in their organisations
“I certainly found this in the banking world where I was able to increase female representation in management from negligible to 50 per cent in two years," Minister Littleproud said.
"It's just silly to lock out more than 50pc of the nation's intellect, whether you're in the corporate world, politics or education.”
He said he did not favour quotas for gender balance preferring proactive management and appointment on merit.
Mr Littleproud is aiming to for equal representation across the board appointments in his portfolio and said the Department of Agriculture and Water are now at 51pc women as well as 50pc of senior executives.
Female representation on boards has risen from 37pc to 40pc on his watch.
Ms Simson said men need to buy into gender diversity to make meaningful change.
“I am where I am because of the support of some wonderful men. A number of them have taken knives for me,” she said.
The Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program 2018 is supported by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, AgriFutures, Australian Agricultural Company, Consolidated Pastoral Company, Cotton Australia, NSW Farmers, Monsanto, Rural Bank, Rimfire Resources and Syngenta.