Driving global change in the meat industry

Driving global change in the meat industry

NEXT STEPS: AMIC chief executive officer Patrick Hutchinson with founder and global chair of Meat Business Women Laura Ryan at a Brisbane networking event last week.

NEXT STEPS: AMIC chief executive officer Patrick Hutchinson with founder and global chair of Meat Business Women Laura Ryan at a Brisbane networking event last week.


Meat Business Women initiative gains momentum.


FOR someone who has blazed such enormous trails, British marketing expert Laura Ryan has a remarkably simple recipe for those who want to drive change.

Be curious, seek mentors and be a mentor, force yourself out of your comfort zone, fail fast and learn quick and back yourself, she says.

By accident, Ms Ryan has become an international force in the red meat industry. Despite having no background in the sector, she worked her way through the ranks to be appointed the first female sector strategy director for the UK Beef and Lamb Board.

And when she found, along the way, a distinct lack of female mentors, colleagues and overall talent in the industry, she booked a meeting room on her credit card for a women in meat networking function and set about establishing what is today a global movement.

Ms Ryan was the keynote speaker at a Brisbane edition of the Meat Business Women initiative this month.

It's about shaping the image, culture and landscape of the red meat game to make it attractive to female talent, and to support the women already working within it.

Ms Ryan reported MBW had now expanded to the United States and she had recently addressed the United Nations, which recognised the movement as a solution of one of its sustainable development goals.

"Gender equality is essential for a sustainable future," she said.

"Research shows businesses that have at least 35 per cent of females on their board make 15pc more profit.

"The red meat industry is under challenge and having greater diversity makes us more responsive to market changes. We need that in droves as consumer trends are changing dramatically."

The Australian arm of MBW has been facilitated by the Australian Meat Industry Council.

Chief executive officer Patrick Hutchinson advocated adapting and evolving to meet the challenges of the future and said there was a clear need for a forum to bring women together across the supply chain.

"Women make up half the population in this nation, why can't they make up half the people in our industry?" he said.

"We are continually fighting tooth and nail with government around issues pertaining to labour in our industry and yet somehow we are not tapping into that resource.

"We need to be asking how can we get everybody in Australia interested in working in our industry.

"The age of the tall, fat white man - me - is starting to plateau out, as it should be.

"We need new thinking, new ideas and for that to happen we need our workplace to be supportive of women."

Mr Hutchinson said the next step was to deliver practical tools and programs to ensure progress is made and the gap can be closed on diversity, labour shortages and poor retention of women in the industry.

Indeed, more than 300 ideas were tabled at the Brisbane event and these will now form the basis of a toolkit.

Due for release next year, the toolkit will provide practical solutions to help businesses make their workplaces attractive to female talent and keep them there.

The Australian meat sector is worth about $30 billion per year to the Australian economy and between direct and indirect roles, is responsible for around 200,000 jobs.

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