Commentary

See all articles

Help not wanted: The mistake that's costing seafood millions

The good thing is it can be fixed.

The results of the recent 'Women in Seafood' survey, which IntraFish conducted in cooperation with UK industry body Seafish, shouldn't have come as a surprise. 

By now, we all know our industry isn't the poster child when it comes to gender equality, which means the equal access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender.

There's still a prevalent perception of it being a male-dominated industry, with old-fashioned and outdated cultural attitudes, which, understandably, is not very welcoming to aspiring female leaders.

Still, it was striking to learn just how much of a challenge the industry has in front of it. Just one example: nearly 65 percent of our 373 respondents to the survey -- coming from across all industry segments worldwide -- experienced some form of gender bias.

Sixty-five percent. That's a shocking number and speaks for the poor state our industry is in when it comes to this issue.

This cannot go unaddressed. Not only is it the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do.

Our industry is aging, which means we need new people to come in. We can’t afford to lose out on the pool of talent, the know-how and the competence females bring with them.

Our industry is growing (remember we need to feed those 9.7 billion human beings by 2050). Again, we will need the leadership skills and experience of the female workforce to be able to take this next step.

Our industry needs more talent, and countless studies show women are in fact better at managing than men.

We're still a long way off before we can shake off the image of being an industry that's not welcoming to women. But we're moving into the right direction by identifying the issues we're facing.

Attracting more women to the industry -- and eventually making real change -- will take the involvement of all of us both men and women.

So I'd like to challenge you to ask yourself if you’re doing enough to make this industry a better place for your aspiring female executives.

Are you contributing to creating a male-dominated and old-fashioned working environment, or are you offering flexible working hours, equal opportunities and equal pay to your workforce, regardless of gender?

It doesn't take much and eventually will benefit the whole sector.

Daniela Klimsova, director of business development at Icicle, told me the following in her Women in Seafood interview two years ago.

"Those in the power base have to actively focus on equality and this means the men have to get involved. Their involvement will bring tangible benefits to their organizations as diverse workforce means innovation and innovation leads to bottom line improvements."

We at IntraFish want to keep doing our part. On June 6, we will hold a dedicated women in seafood event, during the week of the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in Seattle, Washington.

We're inviting the world's most powerful seafood companies to send their top female -- and male -- executives to highlight the potential for women in seafood, and to offer an opportunity to strengthen their network and enhance their career growth.

Neither a single company, a single individual, a single policy or a single event alone will be enough to make the change, but let's all start taking steps together and start making a real difference.

Comments? Email me at elisabeth.fischer@intrafish.com

Twitter: EF_IntraFish

---

For more seafood news and updates, follow us on Facebook and Twitter or sign up for our daily newsletter.