By Becky Rasdall, vice president, trade policy and international affairs, Women in Dairy network lead

In a recent survey of IDFA’s Women in Dairy network, an overwhelming 61% of respondents indicated that gender has played a role in missing out on a raise, promotion, key assignment, or chance to get ahead. Among those with fewer than five years of experience in the dairy industry, 64% indicated they believe their gender will make it harder for them to advance in their career. As we celebrate Women’s Equality Day this year, let’s recognize that although great strides have been made since the early 20th century, there is still work to be done to advance gender equality in the dairy sector. Each of us as leaders within the U.S. dairy sector must continue to better empower and support women because it is the right thing to do for women and for dairy. 

Enter IDFA’s revitalized Women in Dairy network, in which we are striving to not only encourage and empower one another, but to bring transparency to the hard and uncomfortable topics facing women in dairy today. If you attended Dairy Forum this year, you heard IDFA’s CEO and President, Michael Dykes, talk about the U.S. dairy industry’s playbook for success – chief among those plays was the need to unite. For too long our industry has thought in terms of the need to solely unite producers and processors, or customers and suppliers. Gaps and disunity across genders have been left out of the conversation, ballooning the underlying feeling expressed prevalently in IDFA’s Women in Dairy survey results. Imagine the potential to change the face of our industry if we united around the need to not only talk about these disparities, but to do something about them?

In the European Union, companies with comparable jobs that are paid at different salaries across genders will soon receive penalties, meaning companies must start tracking those metrics to begin with. IDFA’s Women in Dairy provides a good place for our industry to ask the question, what metrics do we need to start tracking, and what solutions must be implemented to be able to shift the survey results towards more equitable outcomes?

We are just scratching the surface of these questions and discussions. At IDFA we believe the potential of our industry to feed the world our nutritious, healthy products is tied up in our ability to rise to challenges like these, and we are committed to moving in that direction.  

IDFA’s Women in Dairy network—now consisting of 900 members from across the dairy supply chain—is more than just an opportunity to connect and empower one another. It also extends beyond its role as a place to just host virtual programming. The network is a place where IDFA and our members can practice the ‘S’ behind our ESG principles. With our new Women in Dairy survey results in hand, we now have a benchmark to work with and quantify progress achieved by the IDFA Women in Dairy network and the many programs IDFA members have in place to empower women within their organizations. There is always room for growth, and the dairy industry has the opportunity to be at the forefront of continued progress that will not only improve the state of the workplace for the women but will ultimately benefit the industry as a whole.

Join us! In the coming months, IDFA’s Women in Dairy will continue to provide educational programming, mentoring circles, and networking opportunities. Sign up for Women in Dairy today, and register to join us at our upcoming virtual networking event on August 30 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. Participants will be able to dedicate meaningful time to learning from and fostering connections with other women in the industry. 

Questions? Ideas for how you think IDFA’s Women in Dairy network can help women’s empowerment, equality, and support in your workplace? Reach out to us! 

IDFA Staff Expert

Becky Rasdall

Senior Vice President, Trade and Workforce Policy