NFU Scotland has invited the co-chair of Scottish Government’s Women in Agriculture Taskforce, Joyce Campbell to discuss her final report with the Union’s Board of Directors in February 2020.

The report notes that there are very few women in positions of leadership in Scottish agriculture and that there are “significant cultural barriers”.

The union has pledged to take action to break down these barriers.

The report also recommends that by the end of 2022, all agricultural organisations, bodies and business seeking to participate in formal Scottish Government agricultural stakeholder groups must evidence compliance with the Equality Charter proposed for Scottish agriculture.

The charter is a set of principles and actions developed by the WIA taskforce for ensuring that everyone involved in an agricultural business has access to training resources and career progression opportunity.

While NFU Scotland has a good gender balance in its staff body and at some of its events, women are significantly under-represented at a board, committee, regional and branch level.

A spokesperson said NFU Scotland was committed to addressing the imbalance and will also see its board undertake diversity and unconscious bias training in February to support cultural change and an imbalance of representation. The training was also one of the report’s key recommendations and has already been undertaken by NFUS staff.

NFU Scotland’s commodity and policy committee chairs will be asked to use the co-option process to involve more leading women within the organisation’s policy-making structure.

As well as a presentation from Joyce Campbell on the WIA report, the board will host a workshop involving leading women active within NFU Scotland to consider some positive actions to address the issues highlighted by the report.

NFU president Andrew McCornick, a member of the Women In Agriculture taskforce, said: “What this report shows is a way forward in getting more women to take up leadership roles in farming.

“The training elements to be put in place will support women involved in farming to build their confidence, enhance their skills and develop their leadership abilities.

The goal is that these women put themselves forward to join others already holding key leadership roles in Scottish agriculture.

“Sometimes, as an organisation, NFU Scotland struggles to find members willing to take elected positions. Anything that is done to develop capable individuals to undertake leadership roles is welcomed.

“The WIA report leaves no doubt on what is expected when it comes to involving more women in leadership roles within our sector.

“I believe that it is in the interests of every agricultural organisation, including NFU Scotland, to support diversity in all forms, and to review mechanisms that facilitate opportunities for women.”

The union’s first board meeting in 2020-21 will be held on Tuesday, February 18, 2020.