It’s the eve of International Women’s Day and it got us thinking about all the amazing women in our business – the role models who lead from the front, the innovators who make our food the best it can be without being bound by the way it’s always been done, the inspiring and supportive line managers who encourage and motivate us every day.
Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.
We asked some of our amazing colleagues, what International Women’s Day means to them. #internationalwomensday #breakthebias
“I have been lucky to have great female role models at home and at work. Firstly my mum but also three outstanding female leaders in previous businesses.
“Each has taught me that gender should never be a barrier – hard work, determination, integrity and maybe a little luck are key to success.”
“I’m the eldest of seven sisters and my mum has always been our biggest champion and our first role model. Our drive and determination definitely comes from her.
“As a mum to a son, I have am acutely aware of the responsibility I have to teach my son about equality, shared responsibilities and mutual respect at home, school and work. I have a responsibly to make this the norm, so that he becomes a rounded and grounded man in his adult life.
“Education can do much to change the stereotypes of the past. Let’s celebrate the men and women who are helping to make a difference.”
“I am proud to be a member of ‘Meat Business Women’ and encourage young women thinking about a career in the food industry to ‘go for it’, because there are endless opportunities.
“Although I studied food science at Queen’s University Belfast, I never believed I’d end up as Head of Product Development for a multi-million pound business, working with an innovative team, creating delicious, award-winning products – and also managing my own team of 11 strong and inspiring women!
“I have had many great female role models help me along my journey, but the males have also been equally supportive – with a special mention to the late Denis Lynn. The industry isn’t 9-5, which can be challenging when raising a young family, keeping on top of housework and trying to make time for a social life, but it’s all about balance. If you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything.”
“My female role models are my daughters. My daughters find pleasure in the small things in life; they rarely overthink things and their energy and enthusiasm is infectious. Watching them reminds me daily that these are things I need to keep doing as an adult.
“Being a mummy of girls has inspired me to challenge gender stereotypes; something I wouldn’t have been as confident doing before I became a mummy. I don’t want my girls to ever believe there is something they can’t do, or a colour they can’t like, just because they are female. I want them to be confident in calling out bias when they face it, so I push myself to do the same.
“When my eldest girl was only three, she said, “we need to get Daddy to take down those Christmas lights on the roof because Santa has been”. When I asked her why it had to be Daddy, she said, “because that’s a boy’s job”. I immediately went into the house, got the ladder and took down those lights while she watched, so she could see that this was actually just an adult’s job!”
“I’m lucky to be surrounded by strong women at home. However, from a business perspective the person I am most grateful for in my career is Jo Redman (Discombe). There’s not much Jo doesn’t know about the food industry; she’s been working in it since she was 15.
“Jo also worked in the meat industry, which is predominantly male and believes that men deserve their day too – and they do. But back to Jo – she is an incredible mentor for any young woman. With over twenty years’ experience in the meat industry to then go and open her farm shop, Discolicious. She never stops. Proper can-do attitude.
“I can’t thank Jo enough. She gave me the confidence to just be me in work and not to be afraid of anyone – “you can’t know, what you don’t know, right?” Jo’s leadership, and the experiences she threw at me are what helped accelerate my career.”
“Very early on in my career, I became aware that a role in the food industry is what you choose to make of it.
“If you go above and beyond, you will be considered in higher regard and progress quickly; learn new skills and ultimately earn peer respect.
“The food industry is fun, dynamic and fast paced; no day is the same and demands an agile approach.
That ability to be flexible has gifted me with the same flexibility in return, allowing me to be a well-regarded and well-travelled professional with the support to still be an involved parent with a rich social and personal calendar.”
“The food industry is a fantastic sector to work in. It’s fun, fast-paced and challenging.
“My advice for any young women starting out in their career in product development would be to work hard, ask lots of questions, immerse yourself in food, watch the food programmes, listen to the podcasts, read the cook books and food magazines, keep up to date with what’s happening in restaurants and on the supermarket shelves.
“Challenge yourself to push the boundaries to develop delicious food that is the best it can be.”
“I’ve always been lucky to work with admirable, strong women throughout my career, who have always shown passion and commitment for innovation and making sure their voice is heard no matter who the audience.
“I have taken inspiration from all the women I have worked with and this has encouraged me to continue to develop myself both professionally and personally in everything I do.”
“Sustainability is such an important place to be in right now and anything you do makes an impact. The thing about food is that it’s so connected to different parts of life; health and nutrition, agriculture and the environment, culture and art.
“So, when you’re thinking about making food more sustainable, you’re not just using better ingredients and using better processes, you’re also driving changes across food systems that have wider impacts throughout society and making the world a better place.
“I am a young woman in this new and exciting sector, quickly becoming a mentor and role model to both women and men, and I’m incredibly proud of that.”