Wednesday, 17 April 2024 14:25

Point of View: Home truths from the Chair of New Zealand Women in Wine

Written by  Jo Cribb
Jo Cribb Jo Cribb

OPINION: “I’m a woman and I’m in wine. Why do we need Women in Wine?” I was asked this great question recently.

Her colleague joined in: “Yeah, there are loads of ponytails driving tractors on vineyards now. Why do women need a separate group?” His question might be one you have asked yourself. We have much to celebrate in that women are succeeding and making an increasingly important contribution to our industry. Our industry needs the best, most skilled and motivated people and gender shouldn’t get in the way.

But research shows that it does. Seven hundred industry people responded to the New Zealand Winegrowers ‘Our People Survey’ in 2019. It reported that 55% of women reported being shut out of opportunities by ‘old boys’ networks’ as a barrier to their career progression (compared with 27% of men). Childcare and maternity provisions were another barrier for 31% of women (only 11% of men).

Perhaps this starts to explain why women held only 38% of senior roles (board members, chief executives, senior management, and chief roles) despite having the same levels of career ambition as their male colleagues. Worryingly, 40% of women respondents said they had experienced gender-based discrimination (5% of men) and 30% of women had experienced sexual harassment at work (4% of men).

While survey participants acknowledged that discrimination based on gender has reduced over time, it’s still an on-going problem. This data didn’t paint a picture of a modern, attractive workplace, nor of an industry getting the best out of all its people. That’s why there is New Zealand Women in Wine: to support women to progress their careers, and their employers to attract and retain the best and the brightest without barriers based on gender.

The National Steering Group for Women and Wine met recently to plan for the upcoming year. I am lucky enough to chair this group. We confirmed the three goals of the programme: Connect, Inform and Change. Women are often in workplaces with only a handful of other women. The Connect goal aims to create a community of women in wine, and their supportive colleagues, at the regional and national level and online. The Inform goal is about sharing relevant information and evidence, with a focus on supporting women to develop their careers. Actions under the Change goal aim to support organisations to ensure women thrive at their workplace.

These are our priorities for 2024/25:

Connect

Regional committees will continue to provide opportunities for networking. Nationally, there will be space for women in wine conversations at future industry celebrations and events. We will also aim to build our presence on social media.

Inform

The well-regarded mentoring programme contributes to all three goals and will continue to support the development of a cohort of women in wine each year. Along with that, we will provide a women’s development series of online, bite-sized sessions on relevant topics identified by the steering group.

Change

New Zealand Women in Wine aims to undertake a similar survey to the 2019 ‘Our People’ report to track industry progress towards being a modern, inclusive employer. We will also share updated industry gender pay gap data.

I’m sure we’d all drink to that.

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