Blog : Do character strengths of empathy and vulnerability have a place in our world?

Communication & Gender in Business

By Rym Kachouri, GM – Service and Agency Products

I don’t usually write on International Women’s Day.

Why? Mainly because I don’t feel the need to label myself as a woman in my work life.

I'm a leader at Foodmach, board director at APPMA and the chair of APPEX.

None of those role descriptions indicates I am a woman, and nor does it matter, I would say.

I often like to qualify the latter position. I am the 'chairman' of the APPEX committee at APPMA. Chair-Man. Not Chair-Person, let alone Chair-Woman.

Even my first name doesn’t give any hint about my gender, and I am very happy about it in my work life; thank you, Mama Behya, my Tunisian grandma who chose my name!

So, why did I decide to write today?

I do not do it for myself. I genuinely feel good in my gender-neutral roles. I am writing to try and encourage more women and gender-diverse people to join the dairy industry and the broader processing and packaging industry. I am writing because I want to see more women in leadership positions. I am writing to try to role model what I want to see more in our industry.

All of which means I need to start the conversation and talk about it more. Communication is key.

But communication is not the be-all and end-all.

It’s not just about women starting a conversation. I believe it’s also about participation.

After all, not having enough women in this highly male-dominated industry isn’t just an issue for women. It’s an issue for men, too.

I regularly have conversations with my male colleagues and leaders where they tell me they want the industry to attract more women.

So, I know that almost all of us want more diversity in our teams and companies.

We want more diversity because we know it gives us the perspectives and agility we need to find new solutions and new ways of doing things.

In other words, diversity is a competitive advantage for businesses navigating this digital and artificial intelligence (AI) revolution.

With that in mind, please join me on the Thursday 9 of May at 6pm during the Dairy Industry Association of Australia conference.

My session is from 6pm till 7.30pm and, if you need added incentive, we will have Masahiko Aga Sommelier on hand with wonderful wines and Victoria’s very best, award-winning cheeses.

Be warned, though, I am also looking for a brave volunteer to join me on stage.

And, yeah, I know my French/German accent is a challenge sometimes but be bold and still join me even if you may not always understand what I say!

If you want to join the discussion on the stage, message me @LinkedIn.

I want to talk about diversity with a male leader who supports women in leadership. It will be fun, I promise!

We will also be discussing how more so-called female leadership attributes, such as empathy or vulnerability, could benefit all leaders and their importance in our AI-changing world – as well as what we need to do to ensure male leaders who adopt those attributes feel included by their peers.

Many of my male friends in the industry have already changed the way they lead, but they don’t always feel comfortable talking about it. They tend to believe that change only works for them.

That’s a lost opportunity because, to drive change across the industry, we need to talk about what we’re doing and learn from each other.

This DIAA conference is an opportunity to break the stigma surrounding diversity and talk openly about the ways we really want to work.

So come along and be brave!

Thursday 9th of May at 6pm

The DIAA VIC 2024 FUTURE Dairy Conference and Awards

The Atrium, Flemington Racecourse, Level 2, Grand Stand, 448 Epsom Road, Flemington VIC 3031

This article first appeared in the Dairy Industry of Australia eNewsletter. Subscribe for all the latest dairy news.