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The future is bright, the future is women

Do you want to keep running a successful seafood business? Then you should act now.

Last week’s inaugural IntraFish Women in Seafood Leadership Summit in Seattle was a thundering success -- beyond everyone’s imaginations. 

The audience caught a glimpse of the future of seafood -- and that future is bright.

My colleague, IntraFish Editorial Director Drew Cherry, wrote in a column after the event that it wasn’t an evening only about women, but an evening about leadership.

Gender inequality and bias are, unfortunately, still prevalent issues in this sector, but if you haven't realized it by now, it’s finally time break with the old-fashioned and outdated cultural attitudes. 

It's not only the right thing to do but also the smart thing. In the end, it will benefit your business and the sector as a whole. For anybody wanting to start making that change, here are some key takeaways from the event that you can start implementing now.

Realize the potential. We’ve highlighted it more than just one time: Your business is losing out if you neglect to tap the female management talent out there. 

Countless studies show women are better at managing than men. The passion, enthusiasm and dedication to the seafood industry we saw in that room in Seattle last week is something that’s long been overlooked. 

If you snooze on this, you’ll definitely lose.

Create equal opportunities. This means breaking with old structures and habits but also to actually create a company environment that offers the same opportunities to employees of all genders. 

Invest in kids’ daycare, offer equal pay, set company-wide goals for gender quotas and create teams with both men and women -- there's any number of ways to get creative on this.

Build up your expertise. If you’re a woman in this industry, you’ll have to fight. No doubt about that. 

Torunn Knoph Halhjem, senior director of global species at Trident Seafoods, had a good bit of advice during her presentation at the summit last week: "Strive to be respected vs. liked."

The only way to gain that respect -- next to a passion for the industry -- is your knowledge and expertise. 

You might have to put more work in than you’re male counterparts, you might have to fight off naysayers along the way, but it will make you stand out as someone that shouldn’t be overlooked next time around.

Find a mentor. Having a mentor -- male or female -- will help you pull through even the most difficult of professional situations, and inspire you to achieve more.

Several of the speakers at our event last week said they found it helpful to surround themselves with other women who want to succeed in this male-dominated field.

Don't be afraid to speak up. And with that I don't only mean in meetings or in board rooms. It's just as important to speak up against gender bias and any form of misogyny. 

Women's acceptance of this male culture is part of the problem and no one is going to change if there are no voices of objection. 

So let's all start taking steps together and start making a difference.

We at IntraFish want to keep doing our part, and planning for the second Women in Seafood Leadership Summit in 2018 are already underway. We'd love to hear your ideas for how we can continue to move things forward.

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

Twitter: EF_IntraFish

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