International Women’s Day

Around 370 people from the drinks industry gathered at Randwick on Friday, March 8 2024, for the Drinks Association’s International Women’s Day event, which was hosted by the Embrace Difference Council

Drinks Association CEO Georgia Lennon said, “This special occasion has been so dearly embraced by our industry over the years; it’s become the highlight of the Drinks Association's event calendar.”

“It’s a day when we come together as an industry to celebrate the remarkable contributions of women in drinks and reflect on their diverse stories, achievements, and experiences.”

Fiori Giovanni, best-selling author, human rights activist, and business coach, was the keynote speaker at this year’s luncheon.

Giovanni engaged the audience with her fascinating life story. She started with a gripping account of her escape from war-torn Eritrea in Africa as a teenage soldier, before sharing how she has continued to navigate ongoing challenges, her strategies for overcoming adversity, and her unique perspective on handling life's trials and triumphs.

Her presentation, aptly titled 'Resilience,' centred on the innate strength and power inherent in all of us. In sharing her remarkable journey marked by bravery, hope, and courage, Giovanni provided insights into the foundational elements that underpin true resilience.

“You don't have to look at the big picture; that can be daunting and paralysing. Just focus on the one step in front of you. The size of the step is irrelevant; the decision to make it is enormous,” said Giovanni.

During the event, the audience was shown a series of feature reel videos highlighting the accomplishments and stories of various women from a dozen different drinks organisations, spanning a wide range of roles and locations.

Taking part in the filming was Georgia Lennon, who said in the introductory video: “I had the privilege of meeting these wonderful women during our filming days in Sydney and Melbourne, and I truly hope you find their stories of bravery and resilience as uplifting as I did.”

Video links below:

Future of women in drinks
Embracing change
Elevate and celebrate
Unapologetically authentic

Campari’s Stephanie Shedden did an excellent job as MC on the day. In her introductory address to the audience, she acknowledged the Drinks Association’s Create Difference workstream for their efforts in organising the event. She also thanked the See Difference workstream for their work in publishing the Diversity and Inclusion report at the end of 2023.

Shedden said: “Their meticulous efforts in compiling and analysing WGEA data from our members provide us with crucial benchmarks to strive for and breakthrough.”

“Over the past week, the gender pay gap has been topical in the media. WGEA has stated that the average woman is paid 19% less than a man amongst their dataset of employees. This issue underscores the importance of today's gathering and our collective efforts towards gender equality.”

“Within our own industry, we take pride in the proactive steps taken by 14 of the 19 member companies who conducted their own pay gap analysis and went on to take actions to close those gaps. For the remaining, it's heartening to note that three companies didn't take action because there were no unexplained gaps.”

Sandra Gibbs, Chair of the Embrace Difference Council also took the stage during the event. In her speech she said: "The Drinks Association is committed to fostering a culture of inclusivity and diversity in the drinks industry. It’s the smart thing to do. More importantly, it's the right thing to do."

"The Embrace Difference Council continues to run State Chapters, Inclusive Leadership Programs, Embrace Difference Awards recognising excellence in our industry, we’ve established a Pride in Drinks team who are doing great things, a toolkit to support companies to move forward, and a scorecard that tells us how we are doing compared to other industries, our industry and – ourselves."

Gibbs also highlighted findings from the Diversity and Inclusion Annual Report that revealed that only 33% of managerial positions in drinks companies are women, down from 36% in 2019 and lower than the national average of 42%.

"We have a job to do. Women are still under represented in decision making in our industry," said Gibbs.

The Embrace Difference Council was proud to once again invite the Katrina Dawson Foundation to be the event’s charity partner.

The Katrina Dawson Foundation was established with the mission of finding, funding and mentoring inspiring young women. The foundation works to remove barriers and create opportunities for exceptional young women to fulfil their potential.

Nikki Dawson, CEO of the Katrina Dawson Foundation, introduced the audience to Isabella Harris, a scholarship recipient of the foundation.

Isabella captivated the audience with her inspiring and courageous story. With the support of her mother, she was able to leave her rural hometown where she had endured domestic violence, and pursue her tertiary studies in architecture aided by the Katrina Dawson Foundation.

Last year, Isabella graduated with a Bachelor of Design in Architecture (Honours, First Class) and a Masters in Architecture from The University of Sydney. In 2023, her exceptional talents were recognized when she received the Bluescope Lysaght Prize in Architectural Design and the George McRae Prize in Architectural Construction.

The day ended with a raffle of 21 fantastic prizes generously donated by Drinks Association Member companies. A total of $12,450.00 was raised for the Katrina Dawson Foundation.

Click here to view the full image gallery of the Drinks Association's 2024 International Women's Day event.

Event photography by Belinda Rolland.

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