More than 400 members of the Australia drinks industry gathered on March 8 to celebrate International Women's Day with The Drinks Association's Women in Drinks Council.
The event featured the theme "Be the change you want to see", with suppliers, wholesalers, on-trade and off-trade all raising a glass to diversity and inclusion.
Chair of Women in Drinks Jennifer Collins noted: "Each one of us can be a leader within our own spheres of influence to accelerate gender parity. Through purposeful collaboration, we can help women advance and unleash their limitless potential.
"Today isn't about selling the benefits of diversity and inclusion - these are already well established - but to identify ways in which we can all play a role. Our challenge is to turn the intent into action. Today we have 420 strong, successful and aspirational people in this room. You are the people to lead this dialogue - you are the agents for change."
It was announced at the event that The Drinks Association's focus on inclusion had entered an exciting new phase, with the evolution of the Women in Drinks and Diversity & Inclusion Councils into one newly formed Council, led by an industry steering committee.
Joined as one, the Council will further strengthen the brand proposition of the Australian drinks industry as a destination of choice that attracts and retains diverse talent.
The Chair of the new-look Council is Campari's Simon Durrant (pictured above with The Drinks Association CEO Georgia Lennon), who told the audience: "I take responsibility for chairing the Council very seriously. I have two young children - a girl and a boy - and I would love them to consider the drinks industry as a safe place where they can be themselves, build rewarding careers and benefit from the trust and camaraderie that exists, knowing that they will be treated fairly and equally."
He said the Council's promise was the inspire and support member organisations to foster the development of inclusive and diverse practices within their businesses, wherever they may be on their individual journey.
Guest speaker at the event was Naomi Simson (pictured above with Sally Byrne), founder of online experience retailer RedBalloon and the co-founder of the Big Red Group.
Simson discussed the passion and hard work that transformed her start-up into a multi-million dollar success.
She also revealed that while much progress has been made for gender parity, she remains frustrated by the obstacles her daughter faces in the workplace and in finding role models.
"She tells me: 'No one I see ahead looks like me'."
Simson also chafes at being called a "female entrepreneur".
"I'm just an entrepreneur, my gender is irrelevant," she said.
Simson's keynote address was followed by a panel discussion featuring members of the drinks industry who have forged ahead in he space of gender, diversity and inclusion. Archie Rose's Tori Tulloch, Lion's James Brindley and CUB's Peter Filipovic took to the stage with Naomi Simson, while the session was moderated Sally Byrne from Coca-Cola Amatil.
Lion won the inaugural Inclusive and Diverse Workplace Award at the 2018 Australian Drinks Awards for its LionFlex initiative; while CUB was a finalist in the Gender Equity category.
Byrne told the audience: "Both companies demonstrated real change and proactivity throughout their organisations, while Tori comes from a younger business with less resources, but also unencumbered by previous paradigms."
It was inspiring to hear Brindley and Filipovic discuss how they have worked to overcome unconscious bias in both themselves and their teams, instituting inclusive policies in all aspects of their brewing businesses.
Brindley said beer companies has a reputation for being "boy's clubs" but he's made it his mission to convert Lion to a "people's club".
"It's about having awareness of how you socialise with your colleagues, the language you use and how you act," he said.
He said one of the proudest initiatives he'd championed at Lion was Lion Cubs, where new mothers bring their babies to the workplace to both socialise with their colleagues and also receive business updates while on maternity leave so they don't feel they are out of the loop.
Tulloch said businesses needed to be "in a hurry" to bring about gender equity in leadership and she didn't want to wait 20 years to see it happen.
"It's not going to be 20 years at CUB before it's 50-50," Filipovic assured the audience.
Celebrating a great result for our charity partner
The Drinks Association's International Women's Day event supported Women in Drinks' charity partner, Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group (ANZGOG).
ANZGOG is the national peak organisation for gynaecological cancer clinical trials in Australia and New Zealand.
Women in Drinks beat its target to raise more than $15,000 for ANZGOG at the event, through donating a percentage of ticket sales and running a raffle on the day, plus a Mumm Bar on site, where guests could purchase bottles of G.H.Mumm NV Champagne with proceeds going to ANZGOG.
Jennifer Collins (pictured above with the Women in Drinks Councillors) said: "Our goal as Women in Drinks was to donate $50,000 over three years from 2017 to 2019 and we've smashed that, hitting $54,000 in just two years.
"And I am proud to say that the money raised at this year's International Women's Day event will put 10 women into clinical trials."
Thank you to our guests
The Drinks Association was thrilled to celebrate International Women's Day with so many of its member companies, Corporate Partners. Commercial Partners and Associate Members.
Among Corporate Partners in attendance were Advantage, Bevchain, Nielsen and StayinFront. Our Commercial Partner guests included Hip Media, SKUVantage and OnTap Data. Associate Members who joined us were Corporate Diversity Partners, Mondo Search and Kegstar.
And a huge thank you to everyone else who joined us to embrace the empowerment of women in our industry.