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Kareena Pritchard


Creation date: 19 November 2021


Introducing Kareena Pritchard

 

Kareena Pritchard is many things, in addition to being one of the winners of the first FMC LEAD Scholarship program. She is a country girl, a working mum, and a woman who really cares about building leadership capacity.

 

In the essay she submitted as part of her application, she explored the topic rural communities - how corporate Australia, including FMC, can support the development of locally grown leaders that will bring about positive change and sustainability to regional communities.

 

Here is some of what she wrote:

 

As a working mum (of two girls no less), I am passionate about supporting and empowering women in all forms of leadership.

 

I grew up in Tamworth, NSW and apart from the typical teenage angst ‘I can’t wait to leave this town’ attitude (Sorry Mum!) resulting in a short time away, I have been here most of my life. I moved back after having my children to be closer to my family and have developed a deep sense of appreciation and gratitude for Tamworth and the surrounding communities.

 

Tamworth is a perfect example of a regional area that continues to grow and thrive, despite suffering through prolonged periods of drought. The sustained population growth has seen the local council develop Blueprint 100 to prepare the region to house a population of 100,000 people. A quick drive through Tamworth will reveal multiple new sub divisions, incredible parks and sporting precincts, with more infrastructure planned in the future to facilitate growth and attract more people to the city.

 

Agriculture continues to be a dominant industry within the local economy and it fills me with pride to be able to contribute to our community within a sector that genuinely cares about the communities that they serve.

 

I believe that corporate Australia can support the development of locally grown leaders in the region by focussing on providing more opportunities for women to pursue roles within management. Whilst there are more women participating in the workforce, there is still work to be done in the way of women in management positions. According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (2019-2020 data) while women made up 50.5% of the private sector workforce, they made up only 32.5% of key management positions.

 

Unfortunately organisations within the Agricultural Sector rank lowest on average in terms of their approach to gender equity and have shown the least improvement.

 

All too often, particularly in regional areas, women are overlooked for leadership positions in favour of their male counterparts. Why are we waiting until women are older to discuss these issues? Let’s create traineeships and leadership programs/pathways for our young women to show them just how capable they are. If we can provide a pathway for education and the development of skills to prepare these women for leadership roles, we can effectively grow our talent pool in regional and rural areas and employ people who are passionate and love the communities they are a part of.

 

Corporate Australia (particularly those within the Agriculture Industry) could work together to create some kind of camp/seminar/workshop for young women in high school to attend. These workshops could serve as both an educational experience in the form of developing leadership skills, and as a form of promotion to entice these talented young women to strive to work within the sector after completion of their studies. Educate them regarding university courses they may find interesting, different jobs in the sector that they may not have realised even existed, traineeships that are available to them and anything else we can throw in there to really endorse the positivity within the Industry.

 

Further, let’s work together in association with relevant training companies to seek courses that are actually relevant to roles and leadership within the industry. There should be a greater number of ‘traineeship’ style opportunities offered to women. Perhaps strive to offer more scholarships to those in Regional areas.

 

Finally, while it is obviously vital to encourage young women to join the sector, and to educate and develop their skills in such a way that will allow them to progress to those management positions, we need to educate all those that are currently in the industry of the benefits of diversifying leadership. A shift in culture is required to ensure that these women are given a fair opportunity in real life scenarios, and can continue to progress to key management positions or Boards without running into a glass ceiling.

 

If we provide pathways for women, particularly those who are in regional areas, to be in key management positions within the industry, we can be a part of the movement that will no doubt result in positive change, innovation and sustainability within regional communities.


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