Thursday 2nd March 2023
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘Embrace Equity’. The reasoning for this: Equality is the goal and equity is the means to get there.
We strongly believe in equity at Yeo Valley Organic and that it is intrinsic to our sustainability aims. This International Women’s Day we’re shining the spotlight on three women who are challenging the status quo, proving that things can be done differently and embracing equity at Yeo Valley Organic…
Ali, Marketing and Sous Chef
When I first started working in restaurants it was actually quite tough. I had to develop a thicker skin and a sense of self-belief. Cooking is a very experimental field, you’ve got to be willing to carve your own path and go on a bit of an adventure, but you also need to learn the fundamentals – just be sure to choose environments which make you feel comfortable.
I chose to work for Yeo Valley Organic because I want to be part of a brand making a positive impact. We try to do this in so many ways. One is making sure the meals we serve staff and customers are a balance of delicious, healthy and seasonal – I do this by making sure there’s lots of colour, and therefore variety, on the plate and using fermented foods, which are great for gut health. We also try to come up with inventive but simple recipes for the less popular cuts of meat to show people how tasty offal can be. This is all in the spirit of eating less and eating better meat.
I think empathy is a trait that is perceived to be female and is underrated. It’s a really powerful tool that I try to bring to the workplace. I use it to understand the needs of our customers and cater to them. I also try to be understanding of where my colleagues might be coming from and to stay calm and be not a stereotypically ‘shouty’ chef when the kitchen is under pressure.
I grew up on a farm and have always loved working with animals. Livestock is definitely my main passion. We look after 228 cows and we know them all. I’ve got two favourites, Annie, who’s boisterous, and Dot who’s very gentle.
Cows have a bad reputation when it comes to sustainability, but I think people need to consider the other side of it – they eat the grass and fertilise the soil with their manure creating a positive cycle. I understand how things can look from the outside, especially with all the misinformation, but we don’t get up at 4am to milk them just for the fun of it! We do it because we really care about our cows and want them to be looked after. In terms of my role, it is really varied from milking duties to ensuring the general health and well-being of the herd. Outside of work, I have a flock of sheep, which keeps me busy when I’m not working at the dairy.
The team is fairly balanced, with two men and two women. We all have the same opportunities regardless of gender. Gabby is the boss and a real inspiration to me. You can ask her any question when it comes to the cows and she’ll know the answer. It’s cool to learn from her. I really admire her confidence. She’s really helped me understand how the farm runs.
What I like about women and gardening is that it smashes the idea that women don’t do physical jobs. I know lots of fantastic female gardeners who are hardworking and strong, and it’s good to see women represented.
In many industries and many countries, women still have a hard time coming to the workplace. There’s still a lot of prejudice. It’s very important to recognise this and aspire to equality in the way we get opportunities, get paid and get treated.
The women I work with are absolutely brilliant. Lindsey is our newest member and it’s so nice to see the younger generation interested in gardening and climate change. It makes me feel hopeful for the future.
If I could give any advice to young women today it would be to make waves and upset the applecart. Be unapologetic about what you want from life and don’t wait until you feel confident enough to go out there and get it! Start now.