Equality. The world over, and throughout history, people have fought for it. From the suffragette movement starting in the late 19th century to the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century. Being treated as equal has held a fundamental place in our understanding of identity and place.
For women, equality in the workplace remains a challenge in many areas, In 2019, only 33 CEOs of the Fortune 500 were women. This is the highest on record. 33. Out of 500.
In agriculture, the FAO estimates that more than 40 percent of the agricultural workforce globally is female.
While traditionally, and still in significant numbers, this has reflected female farmers and farm workers, there are women in all aspects of agribusiness, farming and food production today.
In male dominated industries like the palm sector, men do indeed still dominate. In part due to the physical nature of harvesting work, and the remote aspect of the work in plantations.
But there is more to the palm sector than plantations, and there are many opportunities for companies like GAR to empower and encourage women. How we do it requires a conversation that involves men as much as it does women. Inclusivity and diversity requires everyone to be, well, included.
We asked women from across our global business, in a variety of roles, what gender equality means to them.
Donna Floyd, Financial Controller, USA
Most places tend to think that they have a diverse workplace but having a diverse workplace is about more than the male to female ratio. It is also about inclusion, promoting an open forum and equal representation for all.
Promoting gender diversity sets the tone for superior performance that all managers should strive for their companies. Working alongside diverse teams opens the door to various creative concepts and ideas from those with different backgrounds, experiences and working styles. As a black female, I have encountered my share of inequalities in the workplace. Oftentimes in corporate America, females are passed over for position and status. However, due to my upbringing I was taught to strive for excellence and that there was not anything that I could not achieve through hard work.
Over the years, I have seen some changes in the workplace. Recently reading Fortune I noted that last year there was a small rise in the number of women CEOs of major corporations and last week I watched the first woman coach a National Football League game! Whilst these may be small changes they are changes nonetheless and every bit matters. I myself will continue to strive for excellence, reach for the stars, share my knowledge and celebrate every achievement because if diversity is the dance then inclusion is the invitation to that dance.
Beatriz Lopez Dieguez, Senior Finance Manager, Spain
To me, gender equality in the workplace means equal opportunities in access to employment, positions of leadership and decision-making at all levels – no glass ceiling. Gender equality is very important at the workplace because it brings a wider array of perspectives. For example, although anyone with similar technical skills and a strong sense of responsibility can work on the same job, a woman’s nature and emotional intelligence could bring a lot of extra value. I do think that we can provide different points of view, not because women are smarter or are more prepared, but because our instinct is simply different.
I believe that no one should be judged on a gender-basis, although we can have a different set of skills. A company like GAR benefits from having empowered men and women in its structure, and we definitely benefit from working in a positive environment. I am actually very proud about working in such an organisation.
In my working life I am fortunate to not have experienced any source of gender inequality. But I am sure this is not the same for many others, and that there is still a long way to go to achieve full equality of rights and opportunities between men and women in many countries around the world, but I will continue to stand up for these rights.
Lily Wawolumaja, Head of Strategic Procurement, Indonesia
Ever since I learnt about R.A Kartini a prominent hero for Indonesia gender equality, I have been inspired to continue her battle for Indonesian women’s equality.
Everyone should have the right to study as knowledge is the real power of one’s existence. I am thankful that I have been supported by my family to experience both education and work in local and overseas institutions where gender equality is embraced.
These experiences thought me to accept the fact that males and females are equal yet not identical. Each have our own strength and purpose in life. One should never use gender equality as an excuse not to excel, we should always strive with the spirit of excellence. Acknowledgement comes with hard work and accomplishment is earned and not given. Let’s strive! #EachforEqual.
Lim Su Khim, Oleochemicals Manager, Singapore
I believe diversity is important and closely related with enhanced organisation performance. Gender diversity brings about different perspectives and views, which is accumulated over time through various work experiences and exposure.
Organisations who value and embrace gender equality also create positive reputation, thereby enhancing the ability to attract and retain talent.
My career as a female leader has been exciting and rewarding so far. I have had the opportunity to work in companies that actively embrace diversity and inclusion, ensuring that every employee has fair/equal opportunities to excel and progress in one’s career and aspiration. With technologies and flexible work arrangements, I have been able to grow in my career and achieve work-life balance.
Lilianawati, Head of HR Central Business Services, Indonesia
I ever asked a colleague who worked in the shipping industry, whether they ever hired female crew members. He said yes, but would not do it anymore because it was too risky. That is an example where gender inequality still happens in the workplace where employers prefer to hire males because they don’t want to risk bringing females into male-dominated job.
In my view gender equality will bring many advantages to the company because it will create a balanced view and we can have more perspectives. Having females in a male-dominated team and vice versa will also promote a more exciting, fun and challenging work environment. Unfortunately, till today, it still seems more common to place a male into a majority-female workspace rather than females into majority-male workspace.
It seems unfair for us as females, but it should not discourage us from achieving our dreams. Because I believe if we are capable, with hard work and determination, we can be whatever we want to be.
GAR invests in opportunities for women, both in the workplace and in rural communities. Find out how here.
Our colleagues from the Extraordinary Everyday campaign also share their thoughts on a gender equal society here.