Inclusive Leadership Program Kick Off

The Drinks Association proudly launched its Inclusive Leadership Program last night at Lion's Sydney headquarters.

Lion MD James Brindley (below), who is a former program mentor, kicked off the official proceedings by noting that the drinks industry was "legitimately focussed on diversity".

"This is a really rewarding program for both mentees and mentors," he said. "I got so much out of it."

Previously the Women in Drinks Mentoring Program, the initiative will again be facilitated by Serendis Leadership Consulting.

The cross-industry leadership and mentoring program aims to enhance a culture of inclusion across the drinks sector while supporting a diversity of talented, aspiring leaders to progress their career. Participants also have the opportunity to enhance their inclusive leadership capabilities to bring back to their own teams, organisations and the broader sector.

This year, for the first time, both men and women have been accepted as mentees, recognising the importance of providing all emerging leaders the opportunity to develop inclusive leadership skills and experience the benefits of this impactful program.

Serendis director Bianca Havas said: "It is exciting to see the sector committed to and actively integrating inclusion into their business practices. Given that companies within the drinks industry are at different levels of maturity when it comes to integrating diversity and inclusion into their businesses, I see there is an enormous opportunity for businesses to support each other in terms of sharing best practice and what they have learned along the way to influence the whole sector."

Panel praises program outcomes

A panel discussion at the launch - featuring former mentors and mentees Nicole Stanners (Campari), Jonathan Sully (Bacardi), Andrew McLaren (Moet Hennessy) and Melissa Maidment (Diageo) - explored the benefits gained from participation in the program.

Sully echoed Brindley's sentiment that he had underestimated how much he would get out of the program as a mentor. He had been eager to be a mentor again this year, but wanted to allow others from within Bacardi to reap the benefits of participation.

Stanners was the first drinks industry executive to sponsor the mentoring program into the the industry.

She said her drive to bring the program to the Drinks Association came when she watched a panel discussion featuring mentors and mentees from the banking industry. 

"Quite a senior banking industry mentor revealed his 'aha' moment of understanding the challenges females face in a male dominated industry," she said. "He was inspired to bring those insights back into his business, creating a ripple effect of inclusion."

Maidment said there had been both general and very specific benefits for her as a mentee. 

"One night I called my mentor and told him about a difficult conversation I was going to have at work, which I was worried I was about to screw up," she said. "He said 'whoa!' and held the mirror up and told me I was going to make a huge mistake and put me on a better course the next day."

While it's not a requirement of the program, all four of the panellists have continued to stay in touch with their mentors and mentees.

"My mentee knows she always has a direct line any time she wants to bounce something off me," McLaren said. 

Here are some photographs from the event:

Inclusive Leadership Program Kick Off
and Summary