Written by: Cameron Weeks | Farm Business Consultant | 0427 006 944
As a sponsor of the recently held Rural Edge ‘Inspire 2023’ conference I was given the chance to represent Planfarm at a speaker and sponsor cocktail party the night before the conference kicked off. The room was full of people of serious standing in agriculture.
In two hours I chatted, amongst others, to a farm owner/manager who was all over crop agronomy and animal genetics, a farm owner/councilor/community advocate who is oh so inspiring, the managing director of the major HR & WHS consultancy in the state, an up and coming and extraordinarily passionate researcher juggling a pure research role with offering a consultancy service to farmers, plus the chair of Rural Edge who’s worked for the likes of KPMG, PWC and AWB in management roles before settling into a farm business.
Wow! The little old (yep 55 next month!) farm consultant had to be at his best to not look and feel intimidated.
As I drove home, I was reflecting on the experience of the past two hours, and it dawned on me that I am privileged in my role to work with so many amazing women (yes, all the above were women) in all aspects of agriculture and especially within farming businesses. I get to see the best and worst of people and I do know that without women in a farm business they are oh so significantly weaker.
Fast forward to this morning, as I write, and I was meeting with a husband and wife who own and run a very successful farm business to help them figure out their farm succession offering to their two sons. The husband is one of the hardest working, most driven and talented men I know with the ability to grow amazing crops and build anything you ask him to. The wife has had her own career, worked in the usual female roles within the business (administration, accounts, finance) as well as being a mother and in recent years a carer to her husband’s parents.
Oh, my goodness what a partnership. No wonder they have been successful and with two of them thinking together about farm succession bouncing ideas off each other, listening respectfully to each other’s views, and communicating well I know they will get it right.
So, what is it that women bring to a family business that makes them so much stronger? I found this on the KPMG website, and I think it sums it up perfectly.
- The innate characteristics of women as nurturers and caregivers can translate to a role as “chief emotional officer”, adding to the success and perpetuity of the family business. Their presence brings additional resources that the family business can capitalize on.
- Women have unique and transformational leadership styles and skill, judgment and an outlook that makes them holistic managers and leaders.
- Women in family businesses are continuing to work on role conflicts to pave their own path in the business and the family and resist being designated only as the family caregiver.
- It is not possible to grow a family business with a leadership team that is made up exclusively of men or women.
Men, in closing, acknowledge the role women in your business play, look for ways to promote them, encourage their insights, listen to their views, treat them as equals and most of all provide the same amount of respect that you would a male involved in the business. You are better off with them, just as they are you, so leverage off each other for greater success and of course happiness.
Here’s to women in agriculture. Long may there be more of them in the full spectrum of roles!