Fyffes Celebrates International Women’s Day With Launch of Global Gender Equality Program

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Fri. March 8th, 2019
- by Robert Schaulis     

DUBLIN, IRELAND - On the occasion of International Women’s Day, worldwide importer and distributor of tropical produce and mushrooms Fyffes has announced the official launch of its new Global Gender Equality Program.

Julie Cournoyer, Global Director of Sustainability, Fyffes“I am pleased to be officially launching Fyffes Gender Equality Program on International Women’s Day,” said Global Director of Sustainability Julie Cournoyer, in a press release. “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 Program across all Fyffes operations globally by 2021.”

The program, which began on two of Fyffes’ melon farms in Honduras and a pineapple farm in Costa Rica, helps the company realize one of its strategic sustainability imperatives— gender equality. The company’s goal in that respect, Fyffes noted in its press release, is closely aligned to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal for Gender Equality.

Fyffes' new Global Gender Equality program will, the company notes, give workers a confidential platform to highlight barriers at work and at home

“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. Interventions taken by Fyffes to advance female equality will be adapted accordingly,” the company noted in its press release. “The program gives workers a confidential platform to highlight barriers at work and at home. It will give them skills to become decision-makers and leaders in the workplace, as well as at home with their families and their communities.”

Fyffes’ new Global Gender Equality Program is being funded, in part, by the IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative and conducted in collaboration with Business for Social Responsibility, the Alianza Empresarial para el Desarrollo in Costa Rica, and the Fundación Hondureña de Responsibilidad Social Empresarial in Honduras.

To date, Fyffes’ program has conducted independent survey interviews with 90 female and 113 male workers, as well as 7 managers in Honduras. In Costa Rica, the program has undertaken interviews with 21 women, 32 men, and 7 managers.

Fyffes' goal is closely aligned to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal for Gender Equality

Survey findings have revealed that most workers have a clear understanding of what is not acceptable behavior at work—including sexual harassment, harsh discipline, or violence. There is, the company noted, less awareness of company policies regarding these behaviors. Many workers said they would be reluctant to challenge these behaviors or make formal complaints. In one instance, 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 harassment claim. Fyffes has thus undertaken to better communicate its policies on these behaviors.

The Global Gender Equality Program is also establishing gender committees who will be trained on a number of gender-related issues like gender-based violence, maternal health, family planning, sexual harassment, communication, and confidence building. Committee members will act as change agents in their workplace and their communities; they will give workers the confidence to tackle inappropriate workplace behavior and inform Fyffes ongoing financial investment to tackle these issues.

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