Women's Networking Breakfast 2022

A morning of career-changing advice, networking and delicious food.

7th December 2022

This year’s Women’s Networking Breakfast puts sustainability and at the forefront, exploring the ways in which women are transforming the global food system for the sake of safeguarding the future of our planet and our people. The world is constantly changing, and the global food system is facing new challenges every day, navigating the long-lasting impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, to supply chain issues fuelled by the Ukraine war, to the looming climate crisis. These challenges require new and innovative solutions, demanding food system stakeholders to look beyond profit and incite purpose driven action. From farm to fork, women are leading the way, by taking actionable steps towards improving the efficiency, sustainability, and resilience of the global food value chain.

Showcasing the female food professionals who are making waves in the global food system and futureproofing our planet, the Women’s Networking Breakfast will consist of two panel discussions featuring a selection of the industry’s leading voices as well as a series of dedicated networking activities. The first session will focus on building a sustainable food system, highlighting the women who are trailblazing the future of food. While the second will advise on how to build a sustainable food business, arming food professionals with practical advice about how to build and run successful diversity and inclusion strategies.

Attendees can expect to hear from and connect with a selection of the industry’s brightest minds and key stakeholders striving to build a more sustainable food system. The event is open to male and female professionals and will take place in-person on the morning of 7 December 2022, on day 2 of Fi Europe 2022


8:20 – 8:30 – Welcome by DSM: DSM’s commitment to promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Speaker: Isabelle Renault, Regional Vice President EMEA, DSM

 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are the core values within DSM. We are committed to creating an inclusive workplace where our employees can be their authentic selves. We also aim for our business to reflect the customers and markets we serve, we empower people to be inclusive on a market where our customers are diverse. Reflective representation can only be achieved by providing equitable opportunities for everyone. From recruitment to continuous development, we want our employees to feel included, working in a safe work environment.

8:30 - 9:10 Panel Discussion - Building a sustainable food system: Women trailblazing the future of food
Speaker: Saskia Hoebée Senior Associate,  Five Seasons Ventures 
Speaker: Mathilde Jakobsen, CEO & Co-founder, Fresh.Land
Speaker: Chhavi Jatwani, Head of Design Innovation, Future Food Institute
Moderator:  Niamh Michail

Women are integral contributors to the global food system, responsible for half of the world’s food production, according to the FOA. Despite being the backbone of small-scale agriculture and farm and food production processes and the driving force behind everyday family nutrition, the magnitude of the female contribution to the global food system is only just beginning to be recognised.   A growing contingent of women across the industry are realizing the potential of their contribution and trailbalizing change by pioneering new solutions to food system challenges. More women than ever before are entering the industry, from entrepreneurs to food scientists to regulators. This growing cohort of women, often operating in the sustainability space, are leading purpose-led companies and projects, prioritising purpose over profit.   From plant-based products to tech innovation to policy reform, and beyond, women are leading the charge in transforming the way we produce, distribute, consume and conceptualize food and drink. Who are these women, how are they driving change, and what is the significance of this?  

9:10 – 9:30 - Networking session

9:30 – 10:30am Panel Discussion - Building a sustainable food business: Inclusivity and diversity
Speaker: Jon Poole Director, Step Change Development 
Speaker: Isabelle Renault, Regional Vice President EMEA, DSM
Speaker: Neha Na, Gender Lead Solidaridad (Asia Region), Solidaridad Network 
Moderator: Heather Granato

Less than 5% of the largest (by revenue) 500 companies in the world are female led, the latest Fortune 500 list shows. It’s no surprise therefore that the 20 largest food companies on this list are also all run by male CEOs.  

In the food sector, the percentage of women in management positions can range from anywhere between 9-25%, depending on which part of the food chain you are looking at. Yet when it comes to food buying decisions and food production, women are very much in the driver’s seat. According to FOA estimates, women are responsible for half of the world’s food production (rising to as much as 80% in most developing countries), and over 80% of food purchasing decisions globally. This shows that there is a clear disconnect between the c-suite and the ground level of the food industry.  

A plethora of research exists to highlight the link between gender-balanced teams and high performance, sustainable business practises, and increased profitability. In other words, the most gender diverse businesses reap the greatest benefits. As the evidence to support gender diversity in the workplace grows, business leaders are beginning to explore and implement strategies to increase the representation of women in their organisations. A recent survey conducted by Deloitte and FMI of more than 150 US-based executives at consumer-packaged goods (CPG), food manufacturing, and processing companies as well as grocers and other food retailers, found that for the overwhelming majority (86%) of respondents, the top business priority was to “make significant progress on our DEI goals.” 

Nevertheless, the food industry is falling behind on diversity in leadership, with representation of women and other historically marginalised groups on boards in 2020 at 35%, compared to a 47% average in the consumer-staples (non-food) sector.  

If we are committed to creating a more sustainable food system, then surely we need to address this imbalance? 

10:30am Close

You might also be interested in...Women in Nutraceuticals Networking Coffee Reception - Thursday 8 December 11am

Join Women in Nutraceuticals (WIN) at 11am in the Sustainability Hub (Booth No. 7.2L61) for a coffee and a chance to connect with WIN officers and members to learn more about the journey toward gender equity in the global nutraceuticals industry.

Become a member of Fi Global: Women in Food on LinkedIn to network with your fellow females in food 365 days a year!

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