The UK seafood industry calls on more female talent to join the sector

15 June 2017

  • More than three quarters (77 per cent) of people already in the UK seafood industry would actively encourage more women to think about a career in the sector
  • Two thirds (67 per cent) of those working in the UK seafood industry say the industry could do more to attract female talent
  • Just under a third (30 per cent) of UK respondents said they had encountered gender bias
  • Nearly half (48 per cent) said the UK industry is perceived as male-dominated and that this is discouraging women taking up roles.

More than three quarters (77 per cent) of people currently working across the UK seafood industry would actively encourage more women to join the sector, according to a new survey by Seafish, the UK industry authority on seafood and IntraFish Media.

Those that advocate seeking out a career in the industry said that they find the work engaging and challenging (90 per cent). 

The research highlighted that the UK seafood sector believes women are underrepresented across the sector. The majority of respondents (68 per cent) said that when they go to business meetings or industry networking events, women only make up less than 20 per cent of the total number of attendees. As a result, two thirds (67 per cent) feel that the UK industry could do more to encourage women to take up the career opportunities the seafood sector offers.

Almost half (46 per cent) said that they thought more women would seek a career in the industry if there was a greater understanding of the opportunities available and two fifths (39 per cent) said a clearer progression into senior roles would be a greater draw for female applicants.  Almost a third (30 per cent) felt that support through a mentoring or networking group would also help encourage more women into the industry.

The research, carried out by Seafish and IntraFish, canvassed those working across the UK seafood supply chain, with a focus on women, to find out their views on gender diversity and potential barriers for women joining the industry.  This was part of a wider ongoing campaign to raise awareness of the issue and attract more women to the sector.

The survey found that gender bias remains a common issue in the industry, with nearly a third (30 per cent) of respondents having encountered it in some form during their career. Nearly half (48 per cent) of respondents said they felt women are discouraged from joining the industry because it is perceived to be male dominated.

Mel Groundsell, Corporate Relations Director at Seafish, said: "We know that gender balance is good for business.  According to Lord Davies' 'Women on Boards Report', companies with more women on their boards were found to outperform their rivals with a 42 per cent higher return in sales, 66% higher return on invested capital and 53% higher return on equity.  The seafood industry must therefore look to understand the vital importance of tapping into the huge pool of talent, know-how and competence that women represent.

"This survey has shown us that people currently working in the industry are passionate and willing to champion our industry to attract new talent.  However, there is a feeling that there is work to be done, in terms of highlighting the opportunities, in particular career progression, and making the industry a more attractive and accessible place for female employees.

"We are committed to raising awareness of the gender diversity issue to drive cultural change that delivers real impact for the industry.  We hope it will hit home with some of the industry's biggest decision makers and inspire conversations that lead to practical steps on how we can actively change these perceptions.

"There is a strong appetite among women in the industry for a dedicated mentoring or networking body to be set up, and this is something we will be looking at in the months ahead.  We'd like to encourage women working in the UK seafood industry to get in touch with Seafish through our website or regional network contacts, and to link up with their female colleagues across the world through the International Association for Women in the Seafood Industry (WSI)."

IntraFish Editor, Elisabeth Fischer, added: "The results of the survey were quite revealing. Gender inequality in the sector is still prevalent but it was promising to see that the big majority of respondents said they would actively encourage other women to seek a career in the seafood industry.

"We need to go out and communicate the opportunities the sector has to offer to attract more female leadership talent. This will not only need the involvement of women but also of men. IntraFish recently hosted its inaugural Women in Leadership Summit in Seattle and is committed to keep doing its part to drive positive change in the future."