National Farmers' Federation

Ag celebrates diversity graduates as new figures show growing women in leadership ranks

Key leaders in agriculture today celebrate the graduation of the 2022 Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program, which coincides with the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) revealing new figures showing growth in female leadership representation.

The 12 graduates were recognised at Parliament House for completing the NFF-led program which offers mentoring with industry leaders and a two-day leadership retreat in Canberra.

NFF President Fiona Simson celebrated the accomplishments of the graduates. “In just five short months, these 12 leaders have achieved so much with their mentors.

“From gaining new leadership positions and board nominations, to finding new confidence, these women have put in the hard work with their mentors.”

2022 Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program graduates

Elke Cleverdon, Young NSW

Simone Cameron, Katherine NT

Michelle Lench, Wingfield SA

Nicole Brynes, Pooncarie NSW

Rachel Palumbo, Melbourne VIC

Skye Ward, Bungendore NSW

Leanne Rudd, Bundaberg, QLD

Mary Raynes, Perth WA

Sarah Woolford, York WA

Sophie Lountain, Orange NSW

Anna Playfair-Hannay, Forbes NSW

Olivia Lawson, Clarkes Hill VIC

They’ll join the alumni network of 53 graduates who have gone on to become changemakers and leaders in agriculture.

“We recently surveyed our alumni to find out more about their leadership experiences,” Ms Simson said.

“We found 74% of respondents hold board positions, and 54% said they gained a board position since graduating from the program. But it’s not only board positions, our graduates are also stepping up to be community leaders and mentoring others to pay it forward.

“We also found the networks built in this program are invaluable to the graduates and have an immense impact. Connecting women with industry leaders and like-minded peers has proven to propel these leaders forward.”

Program partners have also reached a milestone with 38.7% average female leadership representation.

“Through the partners’ leadership in diversity and inclusion, they’re setting a new standard for the entire industry,” Ms Simson said.

“When they join the program, each partner makes a public pledge and they report on that pledge annually. Our partners are smashing their gender goals, and creating workplaces that celebrate differences through policies and initiatives that allow more Australians to meaningfully participate in agriculture.”

“The program requires accountability, but also opportunities for our partners to share experiences and learn from one another, which helps us collectively achieve our goals.

“We are proud of the work our partners have done. We’re moving the dial on gender equality gradually, and the impacts are being felt across the entire industry. We know we still have work to do. The journey isn’t over yet, but we are determined to push forward.”

Ahead, the NFF and the program want to explore industry-wide gender representation. According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, agriculture had 18% women in management and 2.3% female CEOs in 2018.

“We’d like to uncover more data that shows the complete agricultural story. We’re keen to find out broader perceptions and attitudes towards women in agriculture, their roles in our industry and whats standing in the way of them reaching their full leadership potential,” Ms Simson said.

“We know lack of childcare plays a major role in how and when women participate in our workforce, but we want to know what other barriers exist so we can better address those issues.”

Applications for the 2023 program will open on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2023.