Women in the workplace: Nurturing an inclusive culture

Women in the workplace: Nurturing an inclusive culture

To ensure we provide equal opportunities and a safe and respectable workplace environment, we are taking deliberate steps to attract, retain, and develop female talent.

Have you ever thought about how much women contribute to the agricultural sector? From smallholder farming in Africa, where women make up nearly half of the workforce that produces 80% of the continent’s food, to the talented women across agriculture-based organizations, developing applications, conducting groundbreaking research, and crafting policies that all work towards making farmers more prosperous—the list is endless. While these achievements are impactful, we know there is still room for more women to join the agriculture space and make their mark.

At One Acre Fund, it is important to us that our team reflects the diversity of the farmers we serve. To ensure we provide equal opportunities and a safe and respectable workplace environment, we are taking deliberate steps to attract, retain, and develop female talent. 

Promoting gender inclusivity

We have implemented several strategies to create a workplace where women feel valued, supported, and empowered to reach their full potential. Among these is the One Acre Fund Women's Leadership Council, which advocates for the interests and advancement of women within our organization. The Council fosters mentorship, collaboration, and empowerment through targeted initiatives and supportive programs that enable women to thrive and succeed professionally.

The Women's Council is a dedicated group that works to support and uplift women at every level of our organization. It provides women a forum to mentor each other and share their experiences by pairing senior female leaders with emerging ones. It also offers women-specific training on work planning, and communication to reduce barriers facing women in these areas and help them develop their skills and confidence. 

“Since its inception, the council has empowered many women to rise into leadership positions by fighting against gender bias and running programs to build women’s confidence,” says Pauline Wanjala, Regional Manager at One Acre Fund Kenya. “By encouraging One Acre Fund women to recognize and utilize their gifts, talents, and knowledge to get ahead in their work, we are well on our way to professional gender equity.”

Women leadership council
Women share a moment during a One Acre Fund Women summit in Kenya

Women in leadership

Having different voices at the top promotes gender equality and also ensures that the perspectives and experiences of all employees are well represented. Women leaders are crucial to driving inclusivity within our organization, from advocating for policies and practices that promote gender equality to mentoring up-and-coming women leaders. For Michelle Kagari, our Global Senior Director for Government Relations and Policy, nurturing an inclusive culture is something she’d love to see prioritized universally.

“I am privileged to be in a leadership position that allows me to mold a positive work environment and nurture an inclusive culture where everyone feels valued,” Michelle says. “Identifying and removing any biases to ensure an equitable workspace is something that I prioritize and want to do well.”

In 2021, we redesigned our leadership council to represent our multicultural team and critical organizational functions. Half of the seats are held by nationals of African countries, and half by women. As of 2023, women comprised about 51% of One Acre Fund’s senior leadership team, which is a testament to our continued work towards achieving gender equity across all strands of our work.

Creating supportive work environments

We recognize the invaluable contributions parents make to our organization and their families, and understand the need to support them to excel in their careers while nurturing their loved ones. In a number of our countries of operations, we support remote working, allowing parents to effectively balance their professional and family responsibilities from the comfort of their homes.

“It is great to see and experience this digitized world that allows us to connect and work from anywhere, making integrating our family and work possible,” Michelle says. “When my daughter comes home from school, I take time to catch up with her before returning to work. I am happy she knows her mother is close by and easily accessible.” 

We are also taking steps to ease the transition process for mothers returning to work after maternity leave. For instance, for some countries and teams, we have reduced working hours during the first six months of post-maternity leave, enabling mothers to adjust gradually and manage their workload. In some of our offices, we have established lactation rooms equipped with the necessary amenities for mothers to express and store milk. In the coming years, we are working to extend this provision to the other countries we operate in.

Promoting gender inclusivity in the workplace is more than just a box-checking exercise; it lies at the core of our mission to better serve farmers. In our work towards creating a truly inclusive workplace, we will, among other strategies, continue to increase the representation of women through targeted recruitment campaigns and retention strategies that create an attractive, accommodating workplace environment. 

Kigali BHC Office

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