Towards a gender approach in the Ethiopian flower sector

This blog is written by Jochem Schneemann from Fair & Sustainable Consulting and published on their website on November 27, 2018

At global level there is increasing evidence that investing in the female workforce aligns well with business priorities, such as meeting productivity targets, maintaining a strong and stable workforce, increasing labor productivity, compliance with health and safety requirements, and improved worker engagement. Can such evidence also be found in the Ethiopian floriculture sector? A research was conducted by Fair & Sustainable Consulting, funded by IDH and ICCO.

IDH decided to commission a study in the Ethiopian flower sector, co-funded by ICCO, to test the hypothesis that Gender interventions (e.g. inclusive policies and practices) increase workers’ satisfaction and engagement (for women and men) and lead to changes in employee attitudes, behavior and work motivation, which leads to improved business performance of flower farms.

In the Ethiopian floriculture sector, gender interventions took place since 2014 by the Ethiopian Horticulture Producers and Exporters Association (EHPEA) and the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), supported by IDH and the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative (FSI).

Jochem Schneemann from Fair & Sustainable Consulting: “We started preparations in February, and visited five farms in Ethiopia in May 2018. Our mixed team consisted of: Hibiete Tesfaye, Ayalew Abebe, Jingwei Ling and myself”.

Data collection was done in four ways: Interviews, Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), exploring farm records through HR staff, and a desk review of available project documents and other relevant literature.

Jochem Schneemann: “It was great to hear from both women and men in the flower farms how the awareness raising and training on gender issues and role of gender committees have made a difference on the work floor, and also in their personal lives. Female workers feel more respected by colleagues and management, and are more confident to discuss sensitive topics also with their husbands and community members”.

Most farm owners and managers stated that the (gender) investments pay off, and most see gender interventions as rational and necessary for them to stay in business, not in the last place because the majority (up to 80%) of their workers is female.

Interested to read the report? Have a look at it here.