We've turned one!
It’s hard to believe that a whole year has gone by since the launch of Wilton Consulting Group – and what a year it has been! From the moment I decided to start my own firm, I knew I wanted it to be a little bit different from the other shops in the agri-food and rural spaces. First of all, in looking around the landscape of consulting, I wasn’t seeing too many women in leadership roles within this space. In fact, I only knew of one or two and as far as I could tell, they were sole operators working entirely on their own. As someone who often laments the fact that gender equality is still an elusive concept within the agriculture and agri-food industry, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and create the kind of company (and role model) that I was looking for.
And why does gender diversity matter? Or for that matter, diversity more broadly defined? Well, as a starting point, the agriculture and agri-food industry is one of Canada’s most important sectors not only as an economic driver, but also from the perspective of being the sector that provides Canadians with a critical basic resource, the food on their tables. Therefore, it makes sense that the industry should strive to be representative of their consumer base. Being able to draw connections between the complexities of primary production, processing and manufacturing, and consumer needs and wants requires multiple voices at the table, new research approaches, and a willingness to communicate with openness and transparency. Lofty goals but a worthwhile endeavour!
Diversity also matters when we think about the wide range of issues and topics that are connected in one way or another to agriculture and agri-food. When we think about the farm-to-fork continuum, we can see quite clearly that a focus on one discipline alone is not enough to tackle the complexities of this sector. So that’s why, in addition to my background in resource management, agri-environmental stewardship and policy, rural planning, and community development, you will also see people like Dr. Megan Racey on the Wilton Group team. With academic training in human nutrition, including a PhD that focused on translating nutrition research (see pg.48) related to the intake (or lack thereof!) of dairy and/or dairy alternatives in youth, we can start to take a holistic approach to the understanding of the value chain.
I also wanted to create a space where talent can grow and am delighted that our resident superstar young professional, Krista Kapitan, will be embarking on a Masters degree at the University of Waterloo’s Economic Development and Innovation program, while also staying on with us in a slightly scaled back time commitment. We can’t wait to see what new skills and insights Krista will bring to the team!
As a relative newcomer to the private sector world, I’m intrigued by the power of business to play a positive role in the community. To that end, we’ve been exploring the world of B Corp and hopefully by this time next year, we will officially be part of that community. We were also very pleased to be able to support a local fundraiser, the Cody Shepperd Project Memorial Golf Tournament with all proceeds going towards the development of a hub for social services and mental health programs for youth in the community of Centre Wellington.
We’ve been busy this first year and have had the privilege of working with a wide variety of clients and collaborators.
To all of our clients, thank you.
Thank you for being willing to work with us in our start-up year, we appreciate your trust in us to be partners on interesting and meaningful work. There have been lessons learned of course but also lots of shared successes. The journey to adapt and improve will continue to be embraced as we learn from our experiences.
To our collaborators and freelancers who have joined in on projects over the past year, we’re so delighted to have the opportunity to work with so many talented and gifted people in the industry and we look forward to future shared endeavours.
And year one, that’s a wrap, we can’t wait to see what the future holds.
 For example, of all of the national and provincial associations, only 12% of the chairs are women and only 29% of ag businesses are owned and operated by women.