As outlined in our Fair Employment Policy, Olam is an equal opportunity employer and we strive to promote diversity and inclusiveness at all levels in the organisation. We strongly believe that a diversity of experience, culture and perspective is required to help our business excel.
We expect our suppliers to create an inclusive work environment that avoids any form of discrimination. As stated in the Olam Supplier Code and Living Landscapes Policy, all forms of harassment, intimidation, and abuse or threat are not permissible. We also encourage them to achieve gender equality, equal access and empowerment of women.
Both Olam and our suppliers must respect the rights of indigenous people and their cultural heritage.
We are committed to ensuring gender equality throughout our value chain – from our plantations and farms, to the processing units, offices and senior management. This includes wages, opportunity for promotion and training.
Our processing, procurement and plantation operations in emerging markets are increasingly seeing women in roles typically occupied by men. In our Zambian coffee subsidiary, Northern Coffee Corporation Limited (NCCL), is championing workplace diversity with a training programme for women tractor drivers in the coffee estates. Based in Kasama, Northern Zambia, this programme is aiming to promote economic development and create role models whilst also tracking the progress towards women empowerment and gender equality.
The training programme lasts 2 weeks, with its main focus being on how to train women to operate the heavy duty tractors safely. With practical instructions being a key component of the training, the women learn to handle and understand the maintenance aspects of the machines.
GROW’s mission is ‘women driving a globally inclusive work environment’. With members (both women and men) in the USA, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Uganda, chapters are opening around the world. Areas of focus include communication, time management, negotiation skills and calculated risk-taking.
Christiana Anim Asare, Brands Manager for Olam Ghana's rice business who championed and coordinated the launch event for Ghana, stresses that GROW is neither a department nor union within Olam but is “a network that aims to create an environment in which women are engaged, inspired and can express themselves as leaders”.
Our ambition to improve smallholder farmer livelihoods cannot be fully achieved without addressing gender equality. Studies show that female farmers achieve the same yields as men when they have equal access to farm inputs and training. Yet in many communities where Olam works, women have vastly unequal decision-making power, control over use of income, and access to education, finance, land, and inputs. Entrenched social barriers keep women from accessing productive resources and even household decisions. Their additional household responsibilities, such as gathering water and laborious food preparation, restrict their time to engage in remunerative activities or attend training.
Olam works to close the gender gap in agriculture by providing equal opportunities for women to obtain farm inputs and support; encouraging farmer groups to include women leaders; actively drawing women to training on Good Agricultural Practices and farm management; providing targeted trainings on nutrition and crop diversification; and sensitising communities about gender equality.
One of the greatest risks to the success of our upstream plantation activities is if we fail to gain the acceptance of the communities. Not just at the start of the programme but every day going forward. We therefore adhere to the Free Prior and Informed Consent Process (FPIC) for all new developments, and aim to maintain that dialogue as a matter of course. See also the Olam Living Landscapes Policy, Plantations Concessions and Farms Code and the Sustainable Palm Oil Policy.
In the district of Gajapathinagram, located in India’s southern state of Andhra Pradesh, women are finding social and economic empowerment through employment opportunities with Olam, which today has the largest female workforce in the area.
The women are employed in Olam’s cashew processing unit which, since 2015, has worked with the Indian Tribal Development Authority and Horticulture department, Vizag, to procure cashew directly from the farmers. Of the 1000 employee workforce, women comprise three-quarters. Their majority is a result of a specific recruitment policy that targets individuals with the focused, patient and controlled temperament that is required for cashew processing; traits that women demonstrated over men when put to the test. This case of female empowerment in Gajapathinagram is testimony to how corporate entities can transform social landscapes and bring about positive development that makes business sense.
Alongside such initiatives that promote female inclusion, the focus on safety and wellbeing is a constant for Olam. A series of programmes have been introduced in this same district, such as the installation of street lights for women returning from work after dark, a domestic violence support group and extension of workers’ rights to women. "We are constantly trying to improve safety conditions. We have given them the tool to report sexual harassment anonymously, and refined the system. Women can feel that they are not taken granted or neglected when they work in our plants." says Abhimanyu Singh, Vice President Human Resources, India.
VOICES OF THE WOMEN
"I got married 4 years ago. My husband is an auto driver. I am an illiterate. I used to work in farms, as domestic help to support my husband. 2 years ago, I was told that a cashew factory is set up near our village and that they want women to work in the factory. I joined and later learnt that it is an International company. It gave me a chance to stand on my feet. I feel happy that I can now tell my husband to take rest when he is unwell and not worry about losing money-"Your wife is there to lend you a hand." We laugh together when he says "Yes Boss." K. Sanyasamma, 30 Years, Worker-Shelling
"Olam Cashew plant in Gajapathinagaram has showed me an alternative. I was initially sceptical to work in a big factory. But when I came to know that they offer employment irrespective of educational background, I gathered courage and took the decision to join. It turned out to be a blessing. I'm now working in a growing international company and earning good income. Being an Olam employee gives me respect among all my friends and relatives. What makes me happy is the pride with which my Dad introduces me to relatives." N. Ramya, 20 years, Worker- Canteen
"My family has long struggled to provide for my education. Securing work on a farm gave me a chance to support my family. Then came Olam Cashew Factory near our village. It was my dream to work in a company. So, I applied and got a job there. Imagine my parents' happiness when I told them that I'm working in a big company. I'm the first one among my entire family to have a job and Olam gave me a chance to stay in my hometown and help my parents. Till now, my parents worked very hard for me and Olam gave me a chance to repay it." B. Radha, 20 Years, Quality Sampler