By Natalie Grace, Marketing Manager – Australia, New Zealand Winegrowers

Diversity in the workplace can be an empty catch phrase when it comes to women in many industries, and the wine industry is no exception with women representing an estimated 50 per cent of enrolments in Australian winemaking and viticultural courses but just under 10 per cent of the wine workforce.

In New Zealand, where 46 per cent of the more than 7,000 people working in the wine industry are women, a programme has been implemented that aims to address the challenges women face in the industry by providing support and encouragement to take up roles of leadership and governance.

Connect, inform, change

Women in Wine New Zealand began as a forum to build a strong community through networking events in each region, with a national committee overseeing the delivery of the following objectives:

• Connect: provide opportunities for women in the industry to create valuable networks, and to share successes and ideas.
• Inform: provide information and resources to help women upskill and reach their goals.
• Change: encourage businesses to offer more opportunities for women to progress and step up into leadership roles.

In its first year, nine committees were set up across the country representing each of the major wine regions each holding regular events offering opportunities to hear from guest speakers and make valuable connections in a supportive environment.

Leaning in, together 

Women in Wine New Zealand has since added a mentoring programme that is now in its second year following the success of the pilot programme in 2018. This year, the programme has matched 11 younger members of the New Zealand wine industry with 11 women who have been a part of it for a number of years.

The initial goal was to provide ambitious women with a skill set to help them move forward confidently, however the benefits have reached far beyond the career advancement of each mentee. Priscila Muir, Quality Assurance Manager of Indevin in Gisborne, saw the opportunity to be a mentor as a challenge, something outside her comfort zone and to offer mentoring to a field of the industry that often isn’t in  the spotlight.

Mentee Sophie Harris, Winemaker Te Awanga in Hawke’s Bay, hoped to form more connections within the wine industry and become involved in wine judging. Mentor Kate Radburnd supported Harris’ inclusion as an associate judge at the NZ Wine of the Year Awards and is already booked in to be an associate judge at the Royal Easter Show. For her, Harris says, she has gained in confidence, not only for herself, but also for those steeped within the industry.

Where to from here?

Mentoring and networking opportunities are just the beginning for the Women in Wine New Zealand programme. Diversity workshops across the country have commenced, highlighting the financial and social benefits of a diverse and inclusive organisational culture and sharing the results of a national survey on diversity in the wine industry to gain a wider perspective of the role of women throughout
the country.

There’s no shortage of skill or experience of women in the New Zealand wine industry, many of whom have had their success rewarded and celebrated on the world stage. What we’re now seeing is the general public’s growing awareness of gender imbalances and the need for change which has prompted more women to back themselves in the workforce.

Helped by initiatives such as Women in Wine New Zealand, Women in Hospitality and the Australian Women in Wine Awards, it’s an exciting time for women pursuing a career in wine.

This column appeared in the April issue of National Liquor News.

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