8TH MARCH, 2018

Celebrating 100 Years of Progress for Women

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The victory of the woman’s right to vote is a reminder that discrimination is not sustainable. We #PressForProgress because we believe everyone deserves it. 

Today on International Women’s Day, the conversation has steered towards the Suffragettes and the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act, granting certain women the right to vote in the UK. Within the Camellia Collections we have a selection of manuscripts from this movement. These historical documents reveal the realities of women’s suffrage, telling stories of determination and faith in the face of torture, ridicule and injustice. 

The Imprisoned Suffragette, p28 Camellia Journal


100 years on gender equality remains on the agenda as a global priority, becoming the 5th UN Sustainability Development Goal in 2015. Gender neutrality and female empowerment now feature in multi-stakeholder agreements across many industries. The protection of women’s rights has historically been significant within the tea sector, where traditionally women play an important role in the plucking of tea. At Camellia, we maintain an even gender balance at all our tea operations, indeed, many employ more women than men.  

 “At Goodricke, we follow a policy of natural gender balance in our organization with merit and competencies being the main basis of inclusion at all levels including senior management.”

Outside of the tea sector, our South African macadamia operations have one of the highest rates of female management in the Group - over 31% and this number is growing every year. 

“Women make up the largest percentage of the employees within our agriculture division. We believe empowering women and achieving gender equality at the workplace requires deliberate policies and intentional actions.  As we continue to progress, we plan to strengthen the current programs and encourage women and men equally into the new era of embracing technological change in agriculture.”

Graham Mclean, MD Agriculture, Camellia


As a Group we recognize that education plays a central role in creating opportunities for young women and men. We are seeing greater numbers of young women graduating from school and higher education across our operations than ever before.


Many of our agricultural operations either have company schools on site or support government schools by providing land, buildings, school materials and food for children. Ongoing initiatives in India and Africa encourage the schooling of girls, where traditionally, and for a variety of cultural reasons, female education may not have been a priority. 


Across the Group we have numerous training days aimed at women, where they can build professional skills in areas such as health and safety and sanitation.  Akhil Tiwari, Senior Manager at Amgoorie, one of our Goodricke tea estates, recently started an initiative to identify, with the help of a doctor, the ways in which we can support women. As part of this initiative, a new sanitary pad making unit was recently built by the National Innovation Foundation at Amgoorie. At this, and many other estates, we experience high absenteeism of female workers. Medical data and on-site surveys suggest that improvements in nutrition and access to sanitation could play an important role in improving female employee wellbeing. By continuing to encourage learning about better nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, we are supporting these women in improving their livelihoods, and that of their families, both at work and at home.


Building confidence to speak up is often the first step to empowerment. Creating open dialogue and processes of reporting female issues has been a focus at our operations in Malawi, EPM.  In the past year EPM has successfully implemented a Diversity, Inclusion and Women’s Welfare policy, with Women Welfare Committees (WWCs) being formed on all estates, winning EPM a Gold Social Sustainability Award from the Tea Association of the USA in 2017. Run solely by women, WWCs help identify and resolve issues specific to them. By creating lines of communication and promoting honest feedback, women are encouraged to participate in the creation of new initiatives proposed by the management. Alongside the WWCs, EPM, as a member of the Tea Association of Malawi, have adopted a Gender, Equality, Harassment and Discrimination Policy.

EPM is now in the process of setting up Gender, Harassment and Discrimination Committees (GHDCs). The GHDCs and WWCs members are trained by an external institute to educate all employees from EPM in gender, harassment and equality issues, allowing any complaints to be dealt with professionally.  Through these initiatives, we aim to create a more diverse, inclusive, productive and committed community of employees, free from harassment and discrimination.


Open disclosure of gender neutral remuneration is an important step to ensuring women are paid a fair wage. As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the women’s right to vote, the implementation of new legislation in the UK aims to encourage transparency about pay in larger companies. 

Sarah Hughes, our UK Head of HR explains,

“Much has been written recently about what makes ‘good work’, notably last year’s Taylor Review and the government’s response to it last month. While not specifically aimed at creating gender parity, I believe that these reports promote a helpful dialogue to ‘close the gap’ in equality that women experience in the workplace. We are proud to be committed to the principles expressed in these reports: fair pay for a day’s work, security and freedom from harassment and discrimination, access to training and career progression, support of individuals’ health and wellbeing, good management and giving employees a voice. These are the pillars of equality at work. We ensure that every woman and man in our companies benefit from these commitments, whether it be through the ‘real Living Wage’, the provision of access to healthcare and counselling to all staff, the development of our apprentices, or our successful track record of internal promotions."


Good work for women starts with getting the basics right: creating a gender inclusive working environment that meets individuals’ needs and allows people to thrive and develop. The victory of the woman’s right to vote is a reminder that discrimination is not sustainable. We #PressForProgress because we believe everyone deserves it. 


Anna Chilton, 

Sustainability Manager, Camellia

Our 2021 Annual Report is now available.