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Trade celebrates achievements while tackling bias via International Women’s Day

Published:  08 March, 2022

International Women’s Day (IWD) is shining a spotlight on the top female talent working in the industry today, with initiatives like Whisky Investment Partners’ Break The Bias campaign also raising awareness of the continuing battle for many to achieve gender parity in the workplace.

A variety of different sources are contributing to International Women’s Day today (8 March), with the objective of raising the voices and profiles of women in global wines and spirits.

This includes the Mayfair-based Coravin wine bar, which raised a glass to all things ‘women in wine’ last night (7 March), from winemakers and winery owners to sommeliers and journalists.

Throughout March, Coravin will be offering a special menu of wines from female winemakers and winery owners. The menu will allow customers to access female-led wines at various price points, all made available by the glass via Coravin’s preservation systems.

According to Women of the Vine & Spirits founder and CEO, Deborah Brenner, “It will be over 100 years until we achieve gender equity in the workplace.”

As work to close the gap between the genders in terms of pay and equal treatment continues, Whisky Investment Partners is celebrating some of the top whisky-makers driving change in the industry.

This year, the day is themed around the message #BreakTheBias, which intends to challenge persistent gender biases and stereotypes entrenched into working norms, such as that whisky is a “man’s drink”.

“With advertising heavily geared towards male audiences, the industry has, until recently, lacked real diversity and inclusivity. Thankfully, things have changed and continue to change, with a growing number of women attracted to working in whisky, bringing with them expertise from a myriad of different sectors such as finance and tech; and creating a positive impact on the industry as a whole,” Whisky Investment Partners said.

Some of the leading talent in whisky today includes Amy Seton, owner of Grain & Glass, which remains home to the Birmingham Whisky Club. Seton is also the organiser of Whisky Birmingham, a whisky festival now in its ninth year.

“Whisky is a fascinating industry to work in, and there are many exciting opportunities to be had. Whilst women are definitely not at parity with men in the whisky industry, I think we have become far better represented in the last few years. There are many of us who have been in business, or roles, for many years, so our expertise and profile has naturally grown with it,” Seton said.

Raising the profile for women in whisky is also Dr Rachel Barrie, Keeper of the Quaich. Known as the First Lady of Scotch in the whisky world, Barrie has been widely acknowledged as one of the best whisky Master Blenders in the world and has a whisky career spanning over 30 years to date.

For her efforts, Barrie became the first female Scotch Whisky Master Blender in history to receive an Honorary Doctorate and be inducted into Whisky Magazine’s Hall of Fame.

Elsewhere, Viña Carmen head winemaker Emily Faulconer, will be celebrating International Women’s Day with “the whole team”, with a discussion taking place around diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Diversity is about understanding, accepting, and valuing how people are different. A diverse team brings results that are definitely more interesting and complete. Equity is all about fair play and inclusion, the sense of belonging. We can compare it to a good wine, full of layers (diversity), that make it complex and revealing. Once air gets to the glass (equity and inclusion), the wine can open up and show its full greatness,” Faulconer said.

Falling on 8 March every year, International Women’s Day celebrates the strides and accomplishments of women across the globe in cultural, political, and socioeconomic environments.

To further this discussion within the wine industry, global membership organisation, Women of the Vine & Spirits, has commissioned a new Beverage Alcohol Industry-Specific DE&I Study in Collaboration with Deloitte.

Dubbed Women Raising the Bar, the survey aims to identify both leading practices and areas for improvement in gender Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) in the beverage alcohol industry.

“Until now, companies have relied on very limited data since most studies have included the beverage alcohol sector as part of a broader food and beverage industry categorisation,” said Brenner.

“This baseline report on DE&I in Beverage Alcohol will help inform leaders, allies and the next generation on how to effectively fasten the pace towards equity, creating more inclusive workplaces and increasing the bottom line.”