Spotlight on Pride In Drinks Co-Chair, Tammy Heuych

Spotlight on Pride In Drinks Co-Chair, Tammy Heuych

February 26, 2024
Zane Gibbs, Pride in Drinks Co-Communication Lead

In the spirit of celebrating Pride, and the successful Pride in Drinks Virtual Panel last week, Tammy Heuych – current co-chair of Pride in Drinks, sat down with Maggie Nash and Zane Gibbs (Current Pride in Drinks Co-Communication Leads), to talk about the role Pride in Drinks has in its evolution in Diversity and Inclusion.

Tammy spoke personally and candidly about a range of topics from her own personal journey, her time in the drinks industry, and her vision for Pride in Drinks to become changemakers in the drinks industry.

Tammy, can you tell us a bit about you?

I am a mum, daughter, sister, partner, Scorpio, lover of plants and flowers, lesbian, dog person, Sales Operations Manager, and Co-Lead of Pride at Asahi and Pride in Drinks. All these things contribute to making me who I am.

I’ve been in the drinks industry for over 10 years, specifically with Asahi/CUB. I’ve had various roles within the business in that time, and my day job is Sales Operations Manager. My passion projects are working alongside the Asahi Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) committee and co-leading Pride@Asahi, as well as working with the Drinks Association, co-leading Pride in Drinks. In my previous life, I was a high school teacher, and prior to that, I was in the hospitality industry for a while.

I’m a passionate advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community. As well as identifying as a lesbian, it’s important to me to be an ally to all parts of the queer community. I love that the community is so diverse and intersectional. Every minority group is represented in some way, shape or form. It’s an amazing melting pot of diversity.

As the Pride in Drink (PID) Co-Lead, you have been heavily involved in the forming of the group from the beginning. Let’s talk about the recent PID Virtual Event. As someone who is passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion, why is it important to keep facilitating discussions for champions of DE&I within our industry?

When I joined Asahi, I made a conscious decision to be “out” and visible, and to be known as a lesbian. The foundation for this decision was around building psychological safety for myself and others. If I could contribute to one person feeling safer at work, and feeling like they can be their most authentic self, that was my job done.

Pride in Drinks has a big role to play in bringing visibility to the LGBTQIA+ community and providing education to those within our industry. Events like our virtual panel, face-to-face education and awareness sessions, as well as other initiatives we are working on within the industry, give us a platform to educate those within the Drinks Industry and promote diversity and inclusion

At our panel event, we saw three phenomenal women in senior roles within their respective organisations reflect on what they’ve seen during their tenure in the drinks industry and how they are advocating for change in DE&I, specifically for the LGBTQIA+ community.

It takes senior leaders like Sandra Gibbs, Sarah Abbott and Amanda Lampe to evoke change from the top, which will cause a positive wave throughout the industry.

PID is big on championing bringing your whole self to work. Can you share any experiences of support you have received at work? What kind of a difference does this make to being a high performer within the industry?

Ultimately it is about being able to be authentic. Be yourself.

When I started at Asahi, one of the most liberating moments for me was not having to be conscious about “outing” myself. In previous jobs, and for the LGBTQIA+ community in general, we are regularly put in situations and environments where we are constantly having to come out during daily interactions. This is not an experience a heterosexual individual is faced with.
For me, I was determined to be me from the beginning. What you see is what you get. In doing that, it has made everything so worthwhile. I am open and vulnerable, which has led to rewarding and enriching experiences, and I don’t think I could have done that if I didn’t have the people in the senior leadership team to support me.

Sandra Gibbs specifically, has been a strong support for me in being my authentic self at Asahi. In 2020, when Asahi and CUB merged, I was asked to be a panel member for an internal Wear it Purple event. I was so nervous and experiencing lots of self-doubt at speaking at this event. What changed it all for me was Sandra reaching out and offering her support and encouragement. She made me feel seen and reinforced that my story was valid. To receive such a personal connection from a senior leader was a phenomenal career defining moment for me. Since then, she has continued to be an incredible role model and mentor and has driven me to continue with my journey in championing DE&I.

My manager, Andrew Mills, continues to stretch himself and educate himself on the LGBTQIA+ community. He has provided me with opportunities to speak in front of teams and business leaders to increase their awareness, education, and visibility of the community.
This has encouraged my drive and loyalty towards Asahi. I feel valued and respected as an employee. I feel that the business genuinely wants to be a leader and advocate in the DE&I space and that they care about us all as individuals, not just employees. It makes me want to do my very best in all I do, as it feels like a two-way relationship.

As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, do you feel that there are specific challenges or opportunities unique to our industry?

Yes to both! I spoke to this earlier, but we are really advocating for trying to change the stereotypes that we face in the drinks industry, more specifically within beer.

Spirits don’t seem to have the same stigma as beer and seem to attract quite a diverse consumer base and, therefore, a diverse employee base. Beer has had a bit of a reputation and is stereotyped to be typically CIS white straight males, aged 50+ who watch or play footy, mow the lawn, and drink beer. It is misunderstood and uneducated.

These stereotypes impact the perceptions of the consumers and customers we interact with as well as the employees we attract into our industry.

So, Pride in Drinks has a key role in this space. How do we challenge these stereotypes, preconceived notions, and ideologies, expand the education, awareness and understanding of the rainbow community, and get everyone to understand how beneficial it will be to the business to focus on DE&I as a whole?

We have a whole range of different people working for us, selling products, and interacting with a wide range of customers and consumers. The more you engage with your people and celebrate them for who they are, the more they are driven to deliver for the business. It lays a foundation to enable and sustain change.

On the flip side, we have the opportunity, support, and engagement; so now is the time to move forward as an industry and educate ourselves and bring visibility to DE&I. The opportunity is real for businesses and industries to establish and strengthen diversity of thought through Industry Resource Groups (IRGs) and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).

What advice would you give to others in the LGBTQIA+ community aspiring to make a mark in the drinks industry and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in their workplace?

Get involved where you can! Put your hand up to be a member of your organisational ERG or start one up if there isn’t one. Seek out leaders who are like-minded and gain support.

Support local rainbow communities. Give visibility to rainbow events like Wear it Purple, Mardi Gras, the various rainbow awareness days and remembrance days, and post these on social media.

Be an advocate, be an ally, be visible, be open, be vulnerable and share your story! Be comfortable and see value in all those things that make you uniquely you – never underestimate the power of telling your own story.

We all have a responsibility to help others feel included and feel like they have a sense of belonging. If we each contribute to that environment in our workplace and support a safe space for LGBTQIA+ individuals, this will help in building a culture for all to flourish.

Finally, Pride In Drinks was established in 2022, and we know there are still many priorities and must-do’s within the strategy of the Drinks Association, but what are you most proud of so far?

I’m most proud of the group of people I am working with. It gives me goosebumps! It’s exciting to be with such amazing changemakers.

Each one brings their own ideas and everyone feels safe to be themselves and voice their opinions and express themselves – in a safe space.

I feel so grateful for the support and guidance that we have received from the Drinks Association and the Embrace Difference Council. From an early conversation in March 2022 where we identified an opportunity for a Pride Industry Resource Group, then getting together 16 like-minded individuals from across the industry in September 2022, through to a big 2023, where we had our first Virtual event in February and our first face-to-face event in June, the level of visibility, support and engagement we have had from within the industry in such a short amount of time is absolutely amazing.

I feel like we have the momentum, we have the support, and we have an outstanding team. I have no doubt we will achieve our vision and meet our strategy goals within the next 12 months and beyond.

Any final parting words?

I want the drinks industry to reflect the Australian people, our customers, and consumers, to be seen as an inclusive and diverse industry. I want us to change the face of the drinks industry, challenging stereotypes, embracing diversity and making it a place where anyone can feel like they are included and they belong.

I think we are heading in the right direction, and with the Drinks Association’s support, I truly believe we are making a change.

Observed and written by Zane Gibbs, Customer Planning & Activation Executive, Bacardi-Martini Australia; Bacardi ANZ Pride Committee Leader; Pride In Drinks Co-Communication Lead

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