When we launched the IntraFish Women in Seafood series in June last year one thing we didn't expect -- that we would stir up a hornet's nest.
What we hoped to achieve was to spark some rethinking: We all know the industry can't afford to lose out on this pool of talent, and the know-how and the competence today's female executives bring with them.
The feedback to the series has been phenomenal, and our email inboxes were overflowing with interview suggestions, from both men and women.
We were able to speak to and showcase a number of female executives across all regions and industry segments, and while all of the interviews were thought-provoking and compelling there were some points that stood out.
Because of preconceived expectations of some long-time industry veterans it has been challenging for many of the female top executives.
A number of the women I interviewed told me that when they started working in the industry, women often had to make many concessions to double standards and behaviors that were simply offensive because it wasn't practical to call out every instance.
One of the greatest challenges many are facing revolve around balancing work and family. We all know this industry requires a lot of traveling, for many also long and late board meetings, industry conferences, and networking in a more classic male fashion.
Even though some women, especially in Asia and Latin America, found it more difficult to make their way to the top, I was also surprised to find out that even in countries across Europe and the United States many of them faced issues, despite a seemingly more developed and equal attitude towards women in top management positions.
But not all is gloom and doom and many told me there have been positive developments.
The tide is turning as there are increasingly very intelligent, qualified, passionate females who are well positioned to take on leadership roles in this industry and succeed -- regardless of the gender dynamics in play.
Earlier this month I attended the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in Malta and for the first time the issue of women in the industry made it on the agenda as a topic.
During a lively panel, organized by the International Pole & Line Foundation, we highlighted the underrepresented position women still have both in prominent roles throughout the value chain and at an executive level.
Will there be change? We hope so.
Not many believe board and management quotas are the right way to proceed, but such programs could help to make the industry a more attractive one to the untapped female talent out there. But this will need the involvement of men and not only women.
To say it with Daniela Klimsova’s words, the director of business development at Icicle, “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.”
Things are moving in the right direction and the first step was bringing this topic into the limelight. But a lot of work remains to be done, so let's roll up our sleeves and change this industry for the better.
Comments? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org