Fyffes marked International Women's Day (8 March) by announcing a new target to reinforce its commitment to gender equality.
The company is aiming to have 100 per cent of its owned sites in Latin America benefiting from Gender Equality Programs by 2025, as well as 50 per cent of its suppliers by 2030.
"Global agricultural supply chains are a major employer of women, yet many of them often face significant gender inequalities on a regular basis, such as a lower status at home and in the workplace, harassment, violence, and discrimination," Fyffes outlined. "A key goal of Fyffes sustainability strategy is to create a more inclusive workplace with women as equal partners with men."
In 2019, in line with Fyffes Enriching People’s Lives sustainability pillar, Fyffes established its first Gender Equality Program to address gender-related challenges at its melon farms in Honduras and pineapple operation in Costa Rica.
The programme was developed in partnership with The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) and BSR and was delivered by local partners AED (Asociación Empresarial para el Desarrollo) and FUNDAHRSE (Fundación Hondureña de Responsabilidad Social Empresarial).
“Gender inequality, discrimination, and gender-based violence risks are widespread in Latin America,” said Margaux Yost, manager at BSR. “Fyffes proactively recognised such risks and identified gender as a key priority within its sustainability strategy to improve the working conditions of its employees and the communities surrounding its farms.
"BSR was pleased to leverage its experience with our HERproject initiative to help Fyffes establish its first Gender Equality Program, which will give Fyffes employees the tools and platform to overcome some of those challenges," Yost continued.
The programme is now expanding, Fyffes said, in collaboration with retailer Lidl GB and its long-standing partner IDH - who have supported the project both financially and conceptually from the beginning.
Fyffes will launch HERessentials, a new digital gender empowerment programme created by BSR’s HERProject, which will allow Fyffes to scale up its already successful Gender Equality Program and reach more workers across Fyffes farms.
“The impact of Covid-19 has been challenging for our workers,” said Stella Davis, Fyffes sustainability manager. “We are aware that women have been disproportionately affected economically and that the pandemic has meant additional stress and uncertainty for families in terms of budgeting, family planning, and health care, among other household responsibilities.
"We want to empower all our workers to improve their communications skills and tackle serious issues like domestic violence which has spiked during the pandemic all over the world," Davos noted. "That’s why we are thrilled to be able to offer all our workers - male, female, and managers - the opportunity to complete the HERessentials programme, which provides the tools to be more resilient during these difficult times.”
Starting in May of this year, Fyffes will launch the HERessentials digital tool in its Anexco pineapple and Esmeralda banana farms in Costa Rica. It will be extended it to other Fyffes farms in Costa Rica, followed by Belize by the third quarter of 2021.
The programme will continue to expand to additional locations until 2030 to reach the established target.