Se­nior fe­male man­agers still fight­ing for a seat at the top table

Fish Farmer - - Brussels – Seafood Expo Global 2019 -

SOME com­pa­nies and some coun­tries do things dif­fer­ently, with Nor­way and Ice­land hailed as be­ing among the most pro­gres­sive in terms of gen­der equal­ity, the sem­i­nar heard.

Mary Larkin, pres­i­dent of Di­ver­si­fied Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, which or­gan­ises the expo, and chair or the sem­i­nar, praised Canada too.

‘It’s fas­ci­nat­ing to see the pro­gres­sion one coun­try can make and the im­pact they can make,’ she said.

Dur­ing the sec­ond half of the sem­i­nar, Larkin asked Marie Chris­tine Mon­fort, who founded the Women in the Seafood In­dus­try (WSI) or­gan­i­sa­tion, for ad­vice.

‘Men con­trol the purse strings so how do we get them more in­volved and make them be part of this con­ver­sa­tion and re­alise what women are fac­ing?’

Mon­fort said it was im­por­tant to make it clear there is dis­crim­i­na­tion and show the po­ten­tial gain, that di­ver­sity is good for busi­ness…’there are piles of doc­u­ments, piles of re­search’.

She de­cided to set up the WSI be­cause she ‘could see all the work women were do­ing in this in­dus­try and men were tak­ing the de­ci­sions’.

‘I had a shock when I at­tended the NASF, a huge in­ter­na­tional fo­rum, in 2012, and that day I counted the num­ber of male speak­ers and fe­male speak­ers.

‘I re­alised that some­thing was re­ally wrong be­cause that year five per cent of speak­ers were women. There were women in the room but they were not in­vited to take the mike and I re­alised that things could be done dif­fer­ently.’

She es­tab­lished the WSI in 2016 and it is grow­ing in the at­ten­tion it cap­tures, and in the num­ber of con­fer­ences its mem­bers are in­vited to at­tend, and in the num­ber of sponsors.

But she said there were still ‘ner­vous re­sponses, pa­tro­n­is­ing at­ti­tudes, and a de­nial that there is still a prob­lem to­day’ among some men in the seafood in­dus­try.

She stressed the im­por­tance of net­work­ing: ‘We have seen the suc­cess of male net­work­ing over the past 2000 years. Women have to build their net­works.’

Tesa Diaz-Faes Santiago, direc­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for Grupo Nueva Pes­canova in Chile, said she is of­ten ex­cluded from meet­ings but is told af­ter­wards ‘we need your help’.

‘It would be bet­ter if I was in the meet­ing my­self, and had a seat at the table,’ she said.

Larkin agreed: ‘It’s the meet­ing af­ter the meet­ing we’re not a part of. I’ve watched the men in our or­gan­i­sa­tion – men net­work up and women nur­ture down.

‘I see that with my own fe­male lead­ers- women are wor­ried about their teams, but men are wor­ried about what their CEOs think.’

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