Industry leaders discuss the Past, Present and Future of Pride in Drinks
On Wednesday, 21 February, over 150 individuals registered to attend the Drinks Association’s Pride In Drinks Virtual Event: Pride – Past, Present, and Future.
Organised by Pride In Drinks, an Industry Resource Group formed in November 2022, the event aimed to shed light on the progress and challenges faced by the LGBTQIA+ community in the Australian drinks industry.
Moderated by Pride in Drinks Co-Lead, Jamila Diamonon from Campari, and Pride in Drinks Event Lead, Ruben Da Silva from CCEP, the event featured a panel discussion with three industry leaders.
Sandra Gibbs, Group Chief Supply Chain Officer at Asahi Beverages; Amanda Lampe, Director of Corporate Relations at Diageo; and Sarah Abbott, Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leader at Lion; shared their insights on the past, present, and future of Pride in Drinks.
Amanda Lampe reflected on the significance of WorldPride hosted in Sydney last year, as it was the first time the event had been hosted in the southern hemisphere. The event incorporated the Human Rights Conference and a spotlight on the indigenous community. She recounted her personal favourite moments of the festival including the Bondi beach party and the powerful experience of walking over the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
“There's lots of stuff about Australia that's really positive. In the last decade we've seen marriage equality come in, and there’s now a lot more understanding of LGBTQIA+, particularly around trans issues,” she said.
Sarah Abbott echoed this sentiment: “There’s been so much change. I’ve been in this industry for 20 years, and the difference is incredible. The fact that we're here today, under the banner of Pride in Drinks where corporates have come together for a common goal and there's no competition. It’s a testament to how far we’ve come.”
When asked about how Asahi has benefitted from celebrating authenticity and diversity of thought, Sandra Gibbs replied that the business has a strong focus, globally and locally, on hiring people from diverse backgrounds to drive different respectful opinions.
Gibbs said: “We have a Pride ERG (Employee Resource Group) as I know many companies do. Asahi ANZ’s Pride ERG has 300 people and around 1,000 people globally who identify as being part of the pride community or are allies. From the data that we’ve got and the stories that we’ve been told, we are hearing from people that it really makes a difference to feel like we can be our authentic selves.”
Abbott shared how Lion has reviewed its existing policies from the lens of different communities. The company has since implemented family-friendly policies tailored to the rainbow community, has removed gendered terms in policies, promoted flexibility for same-sex couples, and incorporated gender affirmation practices.
Lampe cited Johnnie Walker as an example of the impact a brand can have when it rallies around different communities including the queer community.
She said: “It’s incredible when I look at what the Johnnie Walker team has done with that brand - a brand that has been associated with elderly men for a long period of time. Last year they started the partnership and sponsorship with Mardi Gras during WorldPride, the impact of this brand and wrapping its arms around inclusion and diversity has been amazing.”
The webinar concluded with the panellists sharing their thoughts on how the drinks industry can continue its commitment to fostering diversity and celebrating authenticity.
Gibbs discussed the power of allyship and the positive impact of education and advocacy. Her reflections on the success of ally training within Asahi echo a broader theme of inclusivity that has become part of the company’s culture.
“We want to be inclusive, we want to welcome everyone, and we want to make this industry a great place to work. For the smaller companies that are listening, you don't need to be a big corporate or have amazing practitioners like Sarah to be involved in Pride. Just think about the small steps you can take to make a difference,” said Gibbs.
Abbott highlighted the need for continuous evolution in diversity and inclusion frameworks.
“Listen to what organisations are doing, reading, joining webinars and looking at the media to see seeing what's happening globally, and understand where the sentiment is shifting,” she said.
Lampe referred to the Rainbow Network, an initiative established by Diageo in 2023 to signal the company’s commitment to celebration, education, and community-building. She encouraged smaller businesses to seek guidance from larger corporations if they are unsure of how to better support their Pride community internally.
She said: “The ideal future is one of greater understanding right throughout our entire supply chain. A great future is one where individuals can be their authentic selves and come into any workplace and be who they are and be totally accepted,” said Lampe.
“And we’ve got to actually celebrate who we are and what we do as an industry and be really proud of what we do,” Lampe added.