‘Sex­ist’ farm­ers or­dered to hire more women

Min­is­ters may im­pose strict quo­tas

Scottish Daily Mail - - EMMA COWING - By Sam Walker

SEX­IST Scot­tish farm­ers have been warned to hire more women or face be­ing hit with strict equal­ity quo­tas.

The in­dus­try has been told it has five years to ad­dress the im­bal­ance of men and women in lead­er­ship roles be­fore min­is­ters in­ter­vene.

A damn­ing Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment re­port, sanc­tioned by First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon, states that women should be al­lowed to take their ‘right­ful place’ at the top of the in­dus­try.

The 34-page doc­u­ment is the fi­nal re­port by the Women in Agri­cul­ture Task­force, which was set up in 2017 to look into the is­sue of in­equal­ity in the in­dus­try north of the Bor­der.

It states that an in­her­ent bias against women within the in­dus­try means they are ‘ex­cluded from agri­cul­tural din­ners and awards’, with fe­male farm­ers telling in­ves­ti­ga­tors they had been ‘asked to leave meet­ings’ and were ‘not taken se­ri­ously’.

Na­tional Farm­ers Union (NFU) Pres­i­dent An­drew Mc­Cor­nick, a mem­ber of the task­force, said: ‘What this re­port shows is a way for­ward in get­ting more women to take up lead­er­ship roles in farm­ing.

‘The train­ing el­e­ments to be put in place will sup­port women in­volved in farm­ing to build their con­fi­dence and en­hance their skills. That it is in the in­ter­ests of ev­ery agri­cul­tural or­gan­i­sa­tion to sup­port diver­sity in all forms.

‘We have a good gen­der bal­ance in our staff body. How­ever, I would like to see more women com­ing to the fore in the or­gan­i­sa­tion by putting them­selves for­ward for elected po­si­tions from branch through to re­gional and na­tional level.’

It is the first time a Bri­tish gov­ern­ment has es­tab­lished an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the role of women in the farm­ing in­dus­try.

It used ex­am­ples of equal­ity pro­cesses in other coun­tries, such as Canada and New Zealand, to put for­ward rec­om­men­da­tions for the in­dus­try over the next five years. They in­clude or­ders that ‘key Scot­tish agri­cul­tural or­gan­i­sa­tions must un­der­take diver­sity train­ing to ad­dress the im­bal­ance in rep­re­sen­ta­tion of women in their lead­er­ship groups’.

It also states that steps must be taken to de­velop the ‘skills, con­fi­dence and knowl­edge of women’ so they can se­cure lead­er­ship roles.

Min­is­ters also or­dered the es­tab­lish­ment of a Women in Agri­cul­ture De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (WiADP) as well as an in­crease in the avail­abil­ity of ‘for­mal and in­for­mal child­care in ru­ral ar­eas’.

The task­force states: ‘The in­dus­try will be stronger when women take their right­ful place in it but cul­tural change takes time.’

In the re­port, the First Min­is­ter said: ‘Scot­tish agri­cul­ture can­not af­ford not to in­clude and in­volve women’s tal­ents more fully and eq­ui­tably.’

She said the rec­om­men­da­tions align with the Gov­ern­ment’s #Gen­er­a­tionEqual cam­paign, adding: ‘#Gen­er­a­tion Equal is an es­sen­tial build­ing block for Scot­land’s fu­ture.’

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