Laurel Investments Ltd. Flower Farm
In 2021 Laurel Investments Ltd. Flower Farm in Central Kenya completed a Gender Mainstreaming process to review how gender-responsive their organisational policies and procedures were, and what as an organisation they were doing to drive women’s economic empowerment and gender equality. With the support of a national gender expert, they spent 6-weeks intensely reviewing their policies and procedures, listening to people of all genders working on the flower farm, and developing an action plan to guide their gender activities. This work was completed in partnership with the Kenya Flower Council and Women Win.
How is this Gender-Responsive Due Diligence?
Any Gender-Responsive Due Diligence (GRDD) process starts with embedding GRDD into policies and management systems (Step 1). This means reviewing current policies and revising them where needed, or developing new ones if gaps are identified. Here is what Laurel did, in line with this step:
- Responsibility for embedding GRDD into processes and management systems sat with the Human Resources Manager. They engaged other senior members of farm management, members of the (pre-existing) Gender Committee, and a broader cohort of individuals working on the farm – by engaging so many internal members of the team, collective ownership was built with senior leadership involved.
- The process was supported by a gender expert, who conducted an impartial policy review and provided recommendations based on their experience and contextual expertise.
- The gender consultant reviewed four of Laurel’s policies related to human rights – Gender, Sexual Harassment, Equality and Diversity, and Health and Safety. The review offered advice on how each policy could be strengthened to better respond to gender risks in the supply chain.
- This document review was complemented by worker consultations including a staff survey, and an exercise that saw 29 workers come together to identify the most important issues that need to be addressed in the workplace.
- Recommendations were made based on these findings. These have been turned into an action plan by Laurel’s Gender Committee, who will also be accountable for its implementation. This aligns with the second area of focus under GRDD Step 1, which includes setting targets and assigning responsibility and accountability within the company.
While Laurel Flower Farm are still going through the process of completing GRDD Step 1 – which requires companies to make updates to policies, embed them, and incorporate expectations into engagement with business partners – in a short time frame they made good progress and some early achievements:
- A comprehensive gender review over a 6-week period of four human rights related policies, and the creation of a report including baseline data (which will help with GRDD Step 4).
- The review included listening to staff – 29 of whom completed the “Drawing the Line” exercise to agree their 10 most important priorities, which starts to move Laurel towards GRDD Step 2. Of the 10 priorities, seven were already being addressed, meaning just three new areas of focus for Laurel. See box below for details on Drawing the Line.
- The review highlighted the areas where Laurel is already excelling. Two examples include: alignment with national regulation on maternity leave and breastfeeding; and a partnership with Fairtrade which (among other things) has reduced the time women spend on unpaid care and work, through a clean water project.
- An action plan has been created which focuses not only on policies and their related procedures, but also on adjustments related to HR (including a focus on women’s leadership, recruitment, and promotion systems), sexual and reproductive health, and staff wellbeing. This action plan is owned by a committee rather than an individual, increasing chances of institutionalising gender across the organisation.
- By partnering with the Kenya Flower Council and Women Win to complete this work, Laurel received technical advice and support, and have been part of a cohort of flower farms completing this work, providing a space to learn and collaborate.
- Laurel has started to implement some areas of the action plan already (GRDD Step 3), including the provision of sanitary towels and the running of sexual and reproductive health sessions for people of all genders.
Drawing the Line is a participatory tool designed by Women Win to help identify priorities for women working within supply chains. The tool includes a set of approximately 20 cards which each have on them a statement and drawing that often align to the eight ‘building blocks’ for women’s economic empowerment. In a group, each statement is read out and discussed – e.g.: Is this statement very important or not so important? Is it something the workplace already has/does, or not? By the end, 10 priority areas are collectively agreed.
Learning and Recommendations for others
This process has resulted in a number of lessons for Laurel, and some recommendations they’d pass on to others at the start of their GRDD journey:
- Identify a gender consultant to do an assessment of your policies and processes – their impartiality and sector expertise will better help you to identify the gaps.
- In the floriculture sector most farms will have a gender committee and a gender policy due to requirements from the Kenya Flower Council – but a comprehensive review will help strengthen these as well as identify further areas to improve.
- Involve the workers directly, so that the focus is on what is important to them.
- Remember that gender risks are many and varied – Laurel realised that where certification bodies require a Sexual Harassment policy, this had become their main focus under gender. They learned that there was a need to broaden their focus, to address not only sexual harassment but also other risks.
- By conducting the Drawing the Line tool at the same time as the gender policy review and developing the action plan, attention was focused for a short, fixed period of time which allowed real momentum to be built.
Written by Joanna Howarth