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Madelyn Ring: my vision for diversity at all levels of the drinks industry

March 4, 2020
By Ioni Doherty

Embrace Difference’s See Difference – Diversity lead Madelyn Ring, Vice President People, CUB, discusses tools for the D&I journey.

A love of travel, which fuelled Madelyn Ring’s curiosity about difference – in culture, language, people and customs – and as a passionate advocate for diversity at work, have placed her in good stead to lead the See Difference diversity workstream, part of the Drinks Association Embrace Difference Council.

Madelyn acknowledges that the road to diversity will take time, but the future she foresees for the drinks industry is one where we see difference on the Drinks Association board, diversity in the leaders of our organisations and more diversity across all our member organisations.

However, she is careful to point out the importance not just of having a diverse workforce but of how to fully realise the benefits of it.

“Seeing diversity – having a diverse workforce is critical but organisations don’t benefit from this unless they leverage diversity,” she notes.

“Organisations need to consider: are we using our diverse workforce as well as we can? Do all team members feel respected, valued and listened to? Is our workplace a safe one where people can be themselves and bring their whole self to work? Do we respect and listen to the ideas of people from all walks of life?”

Madelyn leads a team of 12 to manage the See Difference – Diversity workstream and is in regular contact with Nicole Stanners, Marketing Director at Campari who steers the Leverage Difference – Inclusion workstream.

“The hardest part is knowing what moves the dial. Organisations may try many things, but outcomes may not change. …Ideally there will be an exchange of ideas between organisations and a conversation around what has worked so we can all benefit. What has resulted in positive change and made an impact?” she says.

This kind of industry dialogue and exchange of ideas is a fairly unique opportunity, as far as industries go.

“The drinks industry has, and always will be, a very connected industry and the Drinks Association helps with that – so by nature we share ideas and thoughts all the time,” Ring explains. “I think people in member companies can see the benefits of diversity and inclusion for themselves, for the industry and for society as a whole. It will mean we are more attractive as an industry, and that will bring greater diversity of thoughts and ideas and ultimately better business outcomes from those thoughts and ideas.”

For now, See Difference is working to produce practical tools for businesses, especially for those commencing their journey to improve equity, diversity and inclusiveness.

“The tools we are producing are meant to enable organisations to hold up the mirror and ask, ‘Hey, how are we going? How do we compare with our peers?’ The tools are not intended to be a criticism but a checkpoint and a call to action,” she says.

So, where do people start?

“The starting point is to have the discussion with your leadership team and create policies that embrace difference and to also consider about how to embed those policies in the day to day of your organisation,” she suggests.

As Simon Durrant, Chair of Embrace Difference Council said earlier this year, “There is a huge desire for change and a lot of energy and enthusiasm from people in the industry. Organisations thinking about taking their first steps, the time now is ripe for change. Just get started!”