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Two-a-Day turns traditional gender roles on its head

Two-a-Day, the apple and pear packing and storage facility in Grabouw, in South Africa’s Western Cape, continues to turn traditional gender roles on its head in line with an employment-equity strategy that will further transform the business by 2025.

According to Dimitri Jacobs, Director: Human Resources at Two-a-Day Group, roles traditionally occupied by men, such as forklift drivers and roles traditionally occupied by women, such as fruit packers, are increasingly being sought after, and successfully filled, by their non-traditional genders.

“About 70% of Two-a-Day’s workforce are females and over the years there has been a perception amongst our employees that certain jobs are only to be occupied by certain genders. Over the past few years, however, we have started to encourage our female employees to apply for previously male-dominated positions. For example, a forklift driver is a position that mostly male employees in our company occupy. Now, when we advertise for training opportunities for forklift drivers, we specifically encourage females to join and give them preference. We have had two female forklift drivers, Ronel Van Der Westhuizen and Jacklyn Titus for many years and their workplace incident rates are surprisingly lower than most of our male forklift drivers. Similarly, we now see males packing fruit where, in the past, this was only done by females,” Jacobs says about the shift.

Two-a-Day is, together with Ceres Fruit Growers, the shareholder in Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, the largest exporter of South African apples and pears. Tru-Cape Managing Director, Roelf Pienaar says that customers in South Africa, and abroad in over 104 countries where Tru-Cape fruit is sold, are increasingly interested in how Tru-Cape and its growers are making a positive contribution to South Africa and our people here. “A shopper at Tesco, in London, for example, wants to know how we as a company are improving the lives of people we impact, how we take care of the environment and our social investments. The shopper at Food Lover’s or Checkers in South Africa is no different. One of the ways that businesses differentiate themselves is around their demonstrable commitment to the triple-bottom line: people, the planet and then only profit. Tru-Cape is in an enviable position because our growers and shareholders at Two-a-Day and Ceres Fruit Growers are entirely in support of our transformation strategy,” Pienaar says.

Jacobs says that at Two-a-Day they have actively encouraged diversity training and consciousness around the non-binary nature of career roles. “We have managed to break the stigma that males can’t pack fruit. We have also decided in our Employment Equity Committee meeting to give extra scoring points for females on the different occupational levels to attract them into previously male-dominated positions. Recently, we changed our housing policy to accommodate women who need to relocate from other areas in the country. In the last five years our employment equity/management control score moved from 0.9 to 4.12 points. Even though it seems that the movement might be small, with about 2000 employees, this is a major achievement. We are managing to readdress the imbalances of the past by embracing diversity on different occupational levels and women play key roles in our company success. We have an active EE Forum which is represented by all occupational levels and people with different demographics. We recently agreed on a new employment equity plan that sets out our goals for the next five years and, hopefully, by the expiry date of this new plan, we will see many more females in jobs that were traditionally only occupied by men.”

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Tru-Cape markets a wide range of apple and pear varietals. We constantly look at expanding our range, and have included fruit and vegetables, like cherries and potatoes, to offer greater value to our growing shareholders.