Fyffes global gender equality programme women packing melons

Fyffes is using the occasion of International Women’s Day to officially launch its new Global Gender Equality Program, which will begin on two of its melon farms in Honduras, as well as its pineapple farm in Costa Rica.

Gender equality is one of Fyffes strategic sustainability imperatives, which is closely aligned to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal for Gender Equality.

The aim of the Gender Equality Program is to identify challenges to equality faced by women both in the workplace and in their communities. The issues are likely to vary from region to region given the culture and local context, and Interventions taken by Fyffes to advance female equality will be adapted accordingly.

According to Fyffes, the programme gives workers a confidential platform to highlight barriers at work and at home, offering them skills to become decision-makers and leaders in the workplace, as well as at home with their families and their communities.

The programme is being partially funded by the IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative and conducted in collaboration with Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), la Alianza Empresarial para el Desarrollo (AED) in Costa Rica and Fundación Hondureña de Responsibilidad Social Empresarial (FUNDAHRSE) in Honduras.

To date, the programme has conducted independent survey interviews with 90 female and 113 male workers, as well as seven managers in Honduras. In Costa Rica, the programme has undertaken interviews with 21 women, 32 men and seven managers.

The surveys’ findings have revealed that most workers have a clear understanding of what is not acceptable behaviour at work; including sexual harrasment, harsh discipline or violence.

However, there is less awareness of the company policies regarding these behaviours and many workers said they would be reticent to challenge these behaviours or make formal complaints. For example two thirds of female workers interviewed in Costa Rica and 40 percent of female workers in Honduras said they felt others would disapprove if they made a sexual harrasment claim at work.

To address these issues, Fyffes has undertaken to better communicate its policies on these behaviours.

The programme is also establishing gender commitees, comprised of both men and women, who will receive training on various gender related issues such as gender based violence, maternal health, family planning, sexual harassment, as well as communication and confidence building.

The role of the committee members is to act as change agents in their workplace and their communities and give workers the confidence to tackle inappropriate workplace behavior. The committees will also inform Fyffes ongoing financial investment to tackle these issues.

Commenting on the programme, Fyffes global director of sustainability, Julie Cournoyer said: “I am pleased to be officially launching Fyffes Gender Equality Program on International Women’s Day. I would like to thank our partners for supporting what I believe is a very relevant project; focusing on improving conditions for women both on our farms as well as at home. Fyffes will learn from Costa Rica and Honduras as we continue to implement the programme across all Fyffes operations globally by 2021.”