British Meat Processors Association
British Meat Processors Association
Meat Business Women attending an event

Meat Business Women gaining ground in a male dominated industry

It’s been three years, but the journey is still just beginning… 

In 2015 a new initiative was launched into the UK meat industry called ‘Meat Business Women’, a professional networking group for our trade unlike anything else that existed around the world. An original concept that has now gone global.   

The group is run on a voluntary basis by a committee of six women from the meat sector and chaired by Laura Ryan, formerly of AHDB. It targets the women working within the meat supply chain from abattoir onwards with three simple objectives:

  • to skilfully improve networking,
  • assist in making the image, culture and landscape of the meat industry more attractive to female talent
  • nurture new female entrants into the sector.

The meat industry is not one that traditionally appeals to female talent and research shows that over 90% of Meat Business Women delegates ended up in the sector by accident rather than by design. However, they are now passionate about the sector and want to champion it to others.

Evidence shows that companies with gender diversity achieve superior financial returns, avoid the perils of group-think and help attract a healthy pipeline of the best new talent. With the meat industry under so many challenges having the best possible people working within it is essential. It’s not about quotas, just the best person for the job.

Writing in The Sunday Times this week Rosamund Urwin points out a staggering statistic: we are in a business world where there are more FTSE 250 companies where the chief exec shares his first name with the chairman or CFO (8) than there are companies with a female chief exec (7). We don’t currently have a female CEO of a major meat processor in the UK so there’s clearly a lot more to do in building our pipelines of talent.

Meat Business Women know it’s only at the start of the journey, but we have a strong following within industry, including organisations like the BMPA. David Gunner spoke at the last event in London and Adam Couch will be speaking at the first full conference in Birmingham on 10th October. 

The group has held five sell-out events to date. We started small with 50 delegates and we are now up to 125+. Events cover industry topics such as the impact of Brexit and the challenge of meat-free plus transferred skills and knowledge from keynote speakers such as Kate Adie OBE (BBC journalist), Katie Mclean MBE (England Rugby captain) and Margaret Mountford (lawyer & TV personality).

How can industry get more involved?

The group is not-for-profit which enables a refreshing approach to doing things differently. This year sees the launch of it’s single annual prize called the ‘One to Watch’. The winner of the ‘One to Watch’ will receive a place on the ‘Women Leaders’ course at Cranfield University (worth over £4,000) and can select one of the Meat Business Committee as a mentor for 12 months. Meat businesses are encouraged to make nominations for this prize ahead of the deadline on 31st August and full details can be found here

For further information contact Laura Ryan on 07816-938-532

About Laura Ryan

Laura Ryan founded Meat Business Women (MBW) along with Pam Brook in 2015. The group is run on a voluntary basis and provides professional networking opportunities for women working in the meat trade.


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