The UK and Irish meat industry has “made progress” in appointing more women to senior leadership roles, according to a new independent report published today (Wednesday, May 17).

The global report, commissioned by Meat Business Women, details that 23% of board-level director roles are now held by women, up from 14% in 2020, while 32% of high-level leadership roles are also held by women – which is up from 22%.

The report launched today at the Meat Business Women UK & Ireland conference in London, also outlined that 32% of middle-manager roles are held by women which represents a 29% increase on 2020 figures.

The report is based on data collected from a number of sources including 50 major meat organisations employing almost 250,000 and survey responses from 400 women and men.

Laura Ryan, founder and global chair of Meat Business Women said: “The data tells us that inclusion is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather a necessity if the meat industry is to thrive in the years to come.

“Whilst there is greater disparity in the industry than there was in 2020, there is a huge opportunity for further pre-competitive working on best practice and key workforce policy issues.

“There has never been a more important time to remember that a rising tide lifts all boats.”

However the latest report also suggests that the gap between the most inclusive and the least inclusive meat businesses is widening.

The research highlighted that there is now female representation in 8% of chief executive roles which is up by 3% since 2020.

Overall however despite this progress, female representation in the global workforce has dropped to 33.5% which is down from 36% in 2020 and it has also fallen to 36% of the unskilled workforce from 40% in 2020.

According to the networking group, the report highlights progress against priority themes, with positive shifts in how the industry is perceived, “repaired rungs” in the senior-leadership career ladder, moving inclusion up the agenda and greater access to role models and networks.

Meat Business Women said its strategy has been “focused on shifting the dial” on the priority themes of industry perception and gender balance through global campaigns, role modelling, networking and mentoring.