and Summary
Katharine Johnstone

Mentoring is a two-way learning journey

July 14, 2020
By Alana House

There are many “firsts” for participants in the 2020 Inclusive Leadership Program mentoring journey.

Most significantly, the program is being conducted virtually for the first time due to current restrictions, which has led to Melbourne participants finally having a chance to be involved.

For others, it is their inaugural experience as a mentor or mentee.

Katherine Johnstone, ALM General Manager NSW/ACT, has been given her first opportunity to move from mentee to mentor.

“I was part of the inaugural program when it was launched by Women in Drinks,” she said.

“When I heard about the program, I was eager to participate, as it was an opportunity to develop my leadership skills. The content sessions working with Serendis Leadership were a highlight for me. The program assisted me in my own leadership journey. It was also inspiring to be part such a great cohort of women in the industry.”

Johnstone praised the Inclusive Leadership Program’s balance of interactive workshops and one-on-one mentoring sessions.

“This allows individuals time to digest the content and see how it works in practice and seek feedback from mentors in a safe environment,” she said. “It’s also a great way to open up your networks in the industry.”

Johnstone said she is proud of the many D&I initiatives introduced by Metcash, including flexible working arrangements, tailored parental leave for both men and women, and increasing the representation of women in traditional male orientated roles.

Metcash CEO Jeff Adams is also a Pay Equity Ambassador for the Workplace Gender Equality Agency and has signed the Pay Equity Pledge.

The pledge says:

“We recognise gender bias can creep into performance, talent development and pay decisions to create like for like gender pay gaps.

“That’s why we analyse and monitor our talent management data, including pay, by gender and take action.

“We also set the expectation among people managers that they address gender bias in their decision making.

“We do this because we know we can’t attract and retain the best people and improve workplace productivity if there’s any unfairness or perception of unfairness in our workplaces.

“We encourage all business leaders to take the first step.Equal pay is in your hands.”

Helping shape workplace culture

Johnstone said the Inclusive Leadership Program had a positive impact on her career and was a valuable opportunity to explore the importance of diversity and inclusion in shaping workplace culture.

“People in an organisation are your best asset if they feel a sense of belonging and inclusion it creates a high performance culture,” she said.

“This program also helped develop my leadership skills and allowed me the time to gain clarity on the next steps of my career.”

Her positive experience as a mentee led her to volunteer to become a mentor in the 2020 Inclusive Leadership Program.

“It’s important to give back to an industry that I enjoy being part of,” she said. “It is truly rewarding to develop the emerging talent coming through the industry.

“I am really enjoying the process and I’ve discovered that as mentors we learn as much from our mentees as they do from us.”

Being open about the two-way learning scenario also sends the message that you value each other’s contribution.

“Leadership is not static, it is ever evolving, and I look forward to continuing to develop my skills,” Johnstone said.

The virtual format of the program has meant it has been much easier for Johnstone to catch up with her mentee, however she noted a downside was not being able to help her mentee network at functions.

“But my passion for the program extends beyond its official finish date,” Johnstone noted. “I look forward to helping my mentee expand their network at future events. The drinks industry is a convivial and collaborative one – it will be wonderful when we can meet again.”

The Inclusive Leadership Program is a Premium Service offered by the Drinks Association.