and Summary
Embrace Difference; International Women's Day

What’s next for the Embrace Difference Council?

March 9, 2020
By Ioni Doherty

At the Embrace Difference International Women’s Day event on March 6, the message was clear: every one of us has a part to play on the road to gender equity.

The message reinforces the position taken by the Drinks Association Embrace Difference that equity is achievable only when all members of the drinks industry are a part of the conversation and ensuing action.

Keynote speaker Erin Molan acknowledged the role that her male colleagues had played in supporting her, despite great public backlash, as the first female panellist and co-host on The Footy Show.

Rose Scott, David Smith

Rose Scott (above), VP Sales, CUB, challenged businesses to build female representation within sales teams and client facing roles, and to appoint another female CEO within the next 12 months.

And Managing Director David Smith (above, right) discussed Diageo’s implementation of a male allies’ program so that when it comes to their professional ambitions and trajectories, all female employees are able to see their male colleagues as being on their side.

Trish Unwin, Coles

Trish Unwin (above, right), General Manager Organisational Effectiveness, Coles Liquor, was clear as she challenged the 400 people in the room to consider making a difference, starting with their immediate sphere of influence.

“What are you going to take away from today?” she said.

“You decide: When I go back to the office next week, will this just have been a nice event where I enjoyed some nice wine, some great conversation and some interesting talks? Or am I going to put some of these ideas into practice? …If you want to see big change, this room has the power to change it.”

Alan Ko, Angela Burgum; Embrace Difference

Co-leader of the Gender workstream, Alan Ko (above) observed: “The conversation is changing, and we are now talking about what we can do and how we drive advocacy. Today marks the continuation of the journey from Women In Drinks to driving gender equity in our amazing industry.”

For the Embrace Difference Council, the proposals and tools that have been developed for measuring gender equity were approved by the Drinks Association Board in late February and acting Chair, Madelyn Ring, announced them to the industry at last Friday’s lunch.

The scorecard will enable the industry and member companies to measure their progress on the D&I maturity curve, while the toolkit is designed to help member companies to improve diversity and inclusion practices. 

“The aim of the scorecard is to hold up a mirror to our industry, and companies, as to how they are progressing, and to help spur action towards change both within their organisations and across the industry,” said Madelyn.

The best practice toolkit provides four levels of maturity so organisations can see where they are at and what they might need to do at each stage in order to do better when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

The board also approved the Council’s proposal for a CEO event to support senior leaders in the industry to be more inclusive and aware of any of their blind spots.

Leader of the Leverage Difference workstream on the Embrace Difference Council, Nicole Stanners said in a recent interview: “Support from leaders is essential. If leaders have a personal understanding and experience, we anticipate that they will support the Embrace Difference programs and evolve their own personal leadership so we will be able to accelerate more quickly.

“The event for senior leaders will be an opportunity to learn and understand how inclusive a leader they are and the best way to do that is to see how people in their organisation view them with regards to inclusivity.”

With the Create Difference (Gender) workstream now having hosted its largest event of the year, Danielle Beale is looking ahead to the more local state chapter events.

She said: “We need to challenge ourselves to keep moving forward …we encourage men to be a part of the State events by joining the committee and coming along to the events for their own professional development and learning. We’d really like to see these events gain more momentum.”

Men interested in signing up to the State Chapter Committees should contact Renae Meyer at , or Leela Sennitt at