Thursday, 26 August 2021 06:55

Meat women discuss sector challenges

Written by  Jessica Marshall
Speaker line up: Kristin Akehurst, Sarah Brown, Nicola Johnston, Meka Whaitiri and Sirma Karapeeva. Speaker line up: Kristin Akehurst, Sarah Brown, Nicola Johnston, Meka Whaitiri and Sirma Karapeeva.

Fifty women from NZ’s meat sector came together at last month’s Red Meat Sector Conference to discuss how to support more women into the sector.

The discussion happened at a luncheon hosted by Meat Business Women New Zealand (MBW NZ) where Minister of Rural Women’s Affairs, Meka Whaitiri, was keynote speaker.

Whaitiri told the crowd she was there to ensure the Government was contributing to the progression of gender and ethnic inclusivity.

“We know that women have the skills and the talent to succeed,” she said, adding that it is incumbent on everyone to support future generations of female leaders in New Zealand, “to ensure women have everything they need to move forward, with confidence and certainty, as they progress through their careers.”

Later on, a panel discussion saw Kristin Akehurst, chief financial officer at AFFCO; Sarah Brown, board director at Alliance Group; and Nicola Johnston, group marketing manager for Silver Fern Farms shared their experiences.

Akehurst said she has tried to make conscious decisions to step out of her comfort zone throughout her career.

“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’ve thrived in the environment and progressed by being courageous,” she said.

Johnston added to Akehurst’s point by saying “It’s easy for people to get caught into one course of work within their career.”

The event comes after MBW, a global networking group, commissioned an international report into the gender make-up of the global meat industry.

The report found that while women make up 36% of the meat industry’s global workforce, only 5% of chief executive roles in the industry, globally, are held by women.

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) is a territory partner of MBW NZ and chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said that events like the luncheon are one of the ways women in the sector can support each other.

“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,” she said.

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