Victorian State Chapter Breakfast - Understanding Difference

The Victorian Chapter of the Embrace Difference Council held its first face-to-face session since Covid, addressing the theme: Understanding Difference.

At the Treasury Wine Estates’ office, an audience of industry members, including suppliers and retailers, was privileged to gain insight and hear stories from a diverse panel including, Paige Heibach, Michael Perry, and Nancy Baghdadi.

The panel was expertly guided by host Rachel Wolfe, Director, Group Business Partnering at TWE, to address key themes of Psychological Safety, Unconscious Bias, and the importance of diversity and inclusion within teams.

Michael started the session by sharing his view on psychological safety, supported by a great definition from Amy Edmondson, Harvard Business School:

Psychological safety is a key factor in healthy teams. A leader’s job—whether at the top of an organisation or somewhere in the middle—is to create a safe space for people to speak up, make mistakes, and bring their full selves to work.

As someone living with a disability, Michael also addressed how critically important it is that psychological safety is built up by and demonstrated at the highest levels of an organisation. Furthermore, he addressed the importance of psychological safety being fostered within teams from the ground up.

He said, “A fantastic, engaged audience and a really great experience for me. So, I do hope there were some useful takeaways for people.”

Paige shared first-hand insight into the prejudice, unconscious bias, and discrimination that many LGBTQI+ people face on a day-to-day basis and within the workforce. She addressed the fundamental that we all have unconscious biases and said, “It’s all about understanding, being aware of yours and how they impact you.”

Paige left the audience with a clear message: "Do your research!"

She said, “It can feel threatening for individuals to be bombarded with questions, so your research is valuable. If you want to learn more about an LQBTQI community, for instance, take the time to learn.”

Nancy, working with a range of Liquor Suppliers and with extensive local and international experience, shared her views on the importance of diversity and inclusion within teams. She challenged the audience, and the drinks industry more broadly, on how often we recruit from within. Nancy shared her observation that the Australian drinks industry lacks ethnic diversity and we should be looking to reflect the cultural diversity of our population which may mean we need to recruit from outside drinks to make such a change – otherwise we’re stuck in a cycle.

“This is not always conducive to great innovation or driving change,” she said.

This challenge was also directed to the role marketing can play within the industry and driving change.

On behalf of the Victoria State Chapter and broader Drinks Association community, we thank Paige, Michael, Nancy, and Rachel, for sharing their stories in such a generous and courageous way on the day. A true privilege for the audience.

Details on the next event will be coming out soon when the focus will be on “Leading inclusively and with action”.

Victorian State Chapter Breakfast - Understanding Difference
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