This article is excerpted from Issue 1: IDF Women in Dairy Report 2023 - Unlocking Endless Potential. This first edition of the Women in Dairy Report compiles initiatives that empower women and girls, showcasing the many efforts that the global dairy sector is making in all regions of the world, all along the dairy value chain, from the farm to processing to research and education. To download and read a free copy of the full report, visit the IDF website.
Sustainable Development Goals
IDFA’s Women in Dairy network works to improve gender equality across the dairy sector by ensuring the industry improves female leadership representation and adequately supports and empowers women throughout their professional journey. Women in Dairy does this by creating professional and leadership development opportunities, hosting networking opportunities, creating and promoting benchmark data and workplace surveys, and holding transparent discussions about frequently unspoken issues facing women in the workplace.
IDFA’s Women in Dairy network was created in 2019 and has since grown to nearly 900 members. IDFA’s Women in Dairy network is as active now as it has ever been, and IDFA is working to expand this work for several years to support women’s equality in the dairy industry.
The Big Picture
In a recent survey, a shocking 61% of IDFA Women in Dairy network participants reported they felt gender has played a role in their missing out on a raise, promotion, key assignment, or chance to get ahead at work. That percentage was even higher for those with less than five years of professional experience. IDFA believes these statistics must change. Women in Dairy is creating benchmarks for such data, elevating those results, facilitating allyships with men in dairy, breaking down workplace conflicts that may contribute to the data, and creating professional development/placement programs that support women in dairy.
IDFA’s Women in Dairy network started as an opportunity for women in the sector to network, to share encouragement, and support one another.
Getting the Wheel In Motion
IDFA’s Women in Dairy network focuses on empowerment of women through professional and leadership development webinars offered monthly and forming allies and networking through monthly mentoring groups. We are developing additional programming to highlight anecdotes and advice from successful women who have overcome biases and barriers, as well as building surveys and data collection tools to create transparency around the prevailing biases women face in the dairy workplace. The network will share best practices with industry leaders to help improve gender equality and continue to report on industry benchmarks to inform continued programming.
The History of Success
IDFA considers the growth of the Women in Dairy Network a significant marker to its success. Going from zero to almost 900 members in just 3.5 years, people are joining IDFA’s Women in Dairy Network at a rate of almost a person per day. The participants also have provided significant and regular feedback about the help, support, and growth they have achieved through the Network and the relationships they have built through it. The network will continue to measure success through their feedback and, hopefully, through improved gender perceptions through future survey data over time.
The Value of the Initiative
The value of giving women a place and voice for their experiences, their growth, their reflections, and their frustration is invaluable. IDFA does not feel there is a need to quantify the value of those experiences. And even as the initiative continues to inspire its participants, we continue to learn from the experience of other women networks as well. IDFA works to intentionally connect with women’s networks globally from various sectors, to share experiences and learn from one another. We believe that only together can we learn and grow and continue to overcome the inequalities and needs that cause our Women in Dairy Network to exist.
IDFA’s Women in Dairy network is developing new programming and insight tools that will be revealed at the 2023 IDF World Dairy Summit.