May 5, 2017 saw the world celebrate our most famous wine variety.
Held the night before the Bragato Conference, close to 170 men and women turned up to hear from three guest speakers; Jeni Port - Australian wine writer, Sandra Taylor - CEO Sustainable Business International and Nadia Lim of My Foodbag. Dozens more around the country watched the live stream.
All three guest speakers have been heavily involved in business, with Port and Taylor both advocates and members of current women in wine initiatives in either Australia or the US and Europe. Both discussed how important the initiatives have been and why.
Port, a member of the advisory board of the Australian Women in Wine Awards set up in 2015, said their goal has always been to be a “conduit for change”.
She said they wanted to establish something that would make men and women in the wine industry sit up and take a close look at how many women were leaving the industry and to gain an understanding of why.
“Yes it was sexist, as so many in the industry and the media kept telling us. But our Awards do not suggest or even infer that women require special treatment. The Awards suggest that some women, not all, but some, are finding it tough going in what has been and remains, a largely male dominated profession.”
“With large numbers of women leaving the profession,” Port said, “the industry is losing a significant pool of talent and will continue to do so if women’s abilities aren’t recognised and encouraged.
“In New Zealand, encouraging and keeping women in the wine industry means the industry will have access to the best possible pool of talent.”
Both Port and Taylor made mention of the power of women when it comes to sales of wine, both at home and overseas.
“Women in some of your biggest markets, Australia, US and the UK are the largest consumers of wine,” Port said.
Which begs the question she said about whether there are the women in the industry to take the wine’s story to those consumers, or is it always men who take on that role? If so, what message is that winery sending to a very significant consumer base?
The ability to network with other women has been a valuable result of the women’s networks she has been involved with Taylor said.
“When I was coming along, I was often the only woman manager or executive. I maybe had other women peers in other companies, but I didn’t always have other women around the table. It was important for me to have other women that I could rely on, just to talk things through. It wasn’t so much anger or to complain, but rather just to support.”
Across all sectors there has been a substantial increase in the number of women’s networks Taylor said, with the aim of supporting women advance in corporate roles.
“It is really important that we know and believe we are great and we can make a real contribution to the industry. But sometimes we need the support of each other to step forward and be strong in that way. I think that is what Women in Wine NZ can be.”
In terms of where Women in Wine NZ is heading, there are a number of short term goals.
- Establish a committee with regional representatives
- Facilitate a national mentoring programme
- Host an annual national networking event
- Gather meaningful data on amount of women employed in the New Zealand wine industry and in what positions
- Work with regional committees to help facilitate local educational activities.
Women in Wine NZ is not just about networking. The initiative can help provide the industry with tools, services and opportunities to advance their careers and personnel development. It is important to reiterate this initiative is for EVERYONE – regardless of gender or role within the industry. All members are invited to participate, join the conversation and build their networks.