In a year when inclusivity has never been more important, The Drinks Association and Serendis Leadership facilitated the fourth Inclusive Leadership Mentoring Program. The structured and interactive leadership program strives to create a culture of inclusion and help participants to build a network of peers across the drinks industry through mentoring.
Nineteen pairs of mentees and mentors from 12 companies participated in the program this year which continues to attract a high-calibre of participants. Mentoring relationships are facilitated between talented individuals in middle to senior management roles (mentees) and senior leaders/decision-makers who have a genuine interest in mentoring, leadership and enhancing a culture of inclusion within the industry.
“More than ever in a disrupted world, the importance of inclusive leadership comes to the fore. We know that one leader or demographic group can’t have all the answers and that’s where an inclusive style of leadership allows us to harness different perspectives and be able to adapt and innovate quickly and more efficiently,” said Bianca Havas of Serendis.
By connecting mentees and mentors from different companies, the program supports a diversity of talented individuals to develop their inclusive leadership skills and readiness and enhances the leadership capabilities of current and emerging leaders from the drinks industry.
As the commencement of the program coincided with the introduction of Covid restrictions, all elements of the program were quickly adapted so that they could be delivered virtually.
“Mentoring is impactful at any stage of a person’s career but during a crisis it has provided a scaffold for both mentees and mentors that has allowed people a safe space to step away from the immediate challenges and stand on the balcony to see the bigger picture,” said Havas.
Unfortunately, some organisations were unable to participate as planned due to the extent of uncertainty being experienced, but others were able to join because the program could reach further and wider. For the first time, participants from right around Australia were able to be included.
Networking opportunities were hindered due to limited face to face informal interaction, but event attendance and the frequency of mentor/ mentee meetings improved due to the reduced need to travel for events and meetings.
Feedback from participants has been positive. One mentee said, “I have been able to build my confidence through this program and I am now aware of my strengths, and attributes previously positioned as weaknesses.”
And another: “My key insight is that I should always strive to be the best version of my authentic self. To always have confidence to share what I know and lead by example. The program has helped me leverage the strength of my position as a female in leadership to help pave a better future for those that come after me.”
Many participants commented that in such an uncertain and stressful year, the support and connection afforded by the program was most welcome.
For mentees, the Leadership Mentoring Program is a unique opportunity to navigate their career and leadership future with the support of a senior leader 'beyond the walls' of their place of employment. It is a valued opportunity to access new perspectives, develop crucial skills to enhance their personal brand and inclusive leadership capability, and to build self-confidence.
Mentors also find the experience a successful and rewarding one. By supporting the professional growth of an individual, most mentors find that they gain valuable insights and awareness, develop inclusive leadership and mentoring skills and derive a great satisfaction by supporting someone else, with no other professional agenda at play.
The 2021 Inclusive Leadership Mentoring Program will run from May to October with companies asked to express their interest to participate by the end of the year. The formal participant application process opens in February 2021.