How can gender equality boost agribusiness?
The impact of female participation in agribusiness is one of the highest in the global economy. Women laborers produce between 60% and 80% of food in developing countries, and around the world there are about 1.6 billion women laborers, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Gender equality in this sector is key, so much so that family-sized farm yields could increase by up to 30% if women had the same access as men to land and resources. In terms of retention and quality of employment, female representation is important and that’s why agribusiness companies are working to provide the same opportunities for men and women. One of them is DanPer in Peru, which employs more than 6,500 people and has about 7,000 hectares cultivated throughout the country.
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DanPer has been working on gender equality since its inception and, motivated by its desire to improve in this area, recently completed the EDGE certification process. This certification measures standards of equality and also supports companies to develop a work plan to establish improvements in the future. Today, they are the first agribusiness company in Peru that has this certification. Intrigued by the effects of gender equality on agribusiness, I asked Roger Carruitero, Central Manager of Human Capital Management at DanPer, about this experience:
In recent years, what changes have you seen in the treatment of women employees at the company, thanks to the implementation of gender equality practices?
For DanPer, sustainability is one of the main pillars for the advancement of our people, and we want to ensure that we provide the same opportunities to women and men. For this reason, when we saw the opportunity of measuring our gender equality and learning about other experiences, we seized it immediately. That is why we applied to the EDGE certification, with the support of the IDB Group.
EDGE has allowed us to strengthen our processes of managing people with an inclusive approach. By developing work plans and timetables with specific actions, we ensure the adoption of gender equality as a standard practice in our organization. So today we make use of inclusive language and adopt communication policies. In addition, this component is present in our selection, training, hiring and promotion of personnel. Finally, we encourage the participation of women and men in gender equality dialogues to monitor and measure our progress.
How have advancements made in gender equity helped the business?
EDGE certification has allowed us to strengthen the diversity of the company and reach a more competitive professional market, attracting quality human talent. Practices such as the expansion of the free services offered by our health service in processing plants and agricultural funds allow us to achieve greater welfare for our workers. Today, this center includes exclusive services for women such as gynecological checkups (including cancer screenings), obstetrics and pregnancy services that help us reduce absenteeism, desertions, and turnover levels. Thus we achieve greater well-being in our workers, who in many cases would have to go to hospitals where they would take longer to be treated.
The greater return on personnel, less absenteeism and a decrease in turnover allows us to be more productive, because we have personnel with greater experience and skillsets. This allows our collaborators to have higher incomes that are invested mainly in a better education for their children, many of whom manage to complete technical and university studies. This higher productivity, in turn, generates savings in recruitment, selection, transportation and clothing expenses that solve a significant part of the health budget.
What else would you like to see to increase the opportunities for gender equality in DanPer?
Today, our challenge is to ensure that every day more women have access to positions of power at the mid- to upper levels. For this we must undertake a number of actions, including ensuring that higher education institutions provide the agribusiness industry with a greater supply of graduates in careers whose approach is erroneously directed toward men. This will allow us to have more women applying for mid-level and executive positions in the areas of agricultural production. In the same way we hope to apply it to positions that require technical training, such as mechanics, truck drivers and hopefully tractor drivers.
Regardless, we must continue conducting training and awareness programs on gender equality and non-discrimination in all our headquarters. There is much to do and we are on the right track!
At DanPer, the benefits of gender equality are obvious. Today, as leaders in the field, they participate in events throughout Peru and abroad, where they share their model and seek to raise awareness of the importance of being systematic in adopting measures that reduce and eliminate gender gaps.
"Equality for women is progress for all," as Ban Ki-moon said, especially in an industry where equality could reduce world hunger by as much as 150 million.