Driving the Beer, Wine & Spirits Community Toward a More Diverse, Equitable, Inclusive Era

Over the past few years, the term “DE&I” has been captured in many headlines and articles, as companies across all industries have scrambled to create change and address deep rooted inequities. While DE&I – diversity, equity and inclusion – is a term many of us recognize, challenges often lie in translating a nod of the head to the value of diversity, equity and inclusion into impactful actions.

Membership organization Women of the Vine & Spirits was created in 2017 as an advocate and resource to create authentic change and support professionals within the highly competitive and male dominated beverage alcohol industry on their DE&I journey.

The key to measuring success, however, relies on knowing where you stand – so, finding a valid resource was imperative to achieving action for the industry. In 2022, Women of the Vine & Spirits collaborated with Deloitte LLP to publish the first industry-specific DE&I Baseline Report: Women Raising the Bar. This study establishes a standardized framework from which to measure company performance against DE&I benchmarks going forward. The fundamental goal is to support companies in their evaluation of leading practices and hold themselves accountable for building more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces.

“From previous studies, we know that it will be over 100 years until we achieve gender equity in the workplace,” said Deborah Brenner, founder and CEO of Women of the Vine & Spirits. “Until now, beverage alcohol companies have relied on very limited data since most studies have included our industry as part of a broader food and beverage categorization. This baseline report on DE&I in Beverage Alcohol is helping inform leaders, allies, and the next generation on how to effectively fasten the pace towards equity, creating more inclusive workplaces and increasing your company's bottom line.”

Initial findings from the report were published in March of this year, and next steps for 2023 are in the works – details on how to participate in the 2023 study are included below.

State of the Industry – Key Findings

In 2021, Deloitte began the study with a keen focus on employee perceptions of organizational diversity, company efforts to promote DE&I, and issues preventing people from considering a career in beverage alcohol, as well as the current state of DE&I in beverage alcohol. Utilizing a three-prong approach consisting of employee sentiment surveys, company diagnostic surveys and executive interviews, initial study results suggest the beverage alcohol industry has made some progress toward DE&I objectives over recent years, but there is still significant room for improvement.

Fact: 81 percent of women believe minorities are underrepresented among their company’s senior executives – a sentiment shared across the supplier and distributor tiers.

Results indicated that attractive pay, company culture and work/life balance are the most critical career objectives for women, outpacing learning development opportunities and having challenging responsibilities. With only 10 percent of female survey respondents indicating there has been a significant positive change toward women in the last five years (see figure below), companies need to actively work to increase the visibility of key leaders who serve as role models and help to develop a diverse workforce.

Industry executives who participated in executive interviews echoed this sentiment – “We’ve found that 80 percent of new hires come from within the industry, which is heavily male. We need to look outside to find diverse talent.” When it comes to factors that most contribute to a lack of diversity in leadership positions, the perception of industry bias toward men tops the list, followed by organizational cultural norms, lack of mentorship and sponsorship opportunities, and lack of recruitment efforts.

Women of the Vine and Spirits
Read Deloitte’s full study here. (Image: Courtesy of Women of the Vine & Spirits / Provided by Deloitte, LLP)

Recruitment is a major focus in the world of DE&I – companies across all industries have collectively worked to bring greater awareness to diversity when looking for new talent. While many companies have pivoted to create more inclusive hiring practices, retention of diverse talent has also posed to be a challenge. Data collected by Deloitte indicated the top three reasons for leaving a job as being attributed to lack of promotion opportunities, low income/pay, and a lack of work/life balance. Creating cultures of belonging are also fundamental to the retention of diverse talent, as feeling valued, respected and belonging is necessary for someone to bring their full authentic self to work, and ultimately to elevate within the company.

Actionable Steps Companies Can Take Now

With clear indication that the beverage alcohol industry has many improvements to make, it is imperative that the industry unite and commit to taking further action. Women of the Vine & Spirits and Deloitte LLC work actively with companies to address current needs and support the development of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

Here are a five steps companies can take today, as found in the 2022 “Women Raising the Bar” study:

1. Perform a Current-state Assessment

Understand where your company is on the DE&I maturity curve [more on that in Women Raising the Bar study, Page 17]. Identify DE&I strengths, opportunities and gaps in your organization’s talent and business strategy and processes.

2. Align on DE&I Priorities

Agree on DE&I priorities and a definition of gender in DE&I success. Set measurable goals and develop a DE&I road map that properly engages your employees to execute on the strategy.

3. Drive Change from the Top

Company leadership (i.e., C-suite and the board) should make gender in DE&I a priority and set measurable targets to improve the workplace environment.

4. Refresh Talent Strategy

Think outside the box when it comes to recruitment, opening the aperture to bold, new strategies to source and retain talent.

5. Focus on Mentorship and Sponsorship

Mentorship and sponsorship can be of the utmost importance when trying to find and retain diverse talent – create a supportive environment where diverse talent can thrive and advance.

Promote Economic Diversity and Awareness of Diverse Brands

What more can beverage buyers at bars, restaurants, chains and other on-premise venues do now to drive change? Promote economic diversity and awareness of diverse brands behind your bars and on your lists with the Women Powered Brands database.

Women Powered Brands is the first beverage alcohol specific resource and database connecting women-owned, women-led and women-made brands to buyers, wholesalers, importers, bar managers and supplier diversity procurement managers across the entire beverage alcohol and hospitality industry.

Chad Sokol, vice president and general merchandise manager, wine/liquor, for Costco Wholesale, said, “We’ve had supplier diversity initiatives in place for quite a while, but they were pretty much focused on suppliers reaching out to Costco to be part of that program. Whereas Women Powered Brands is going to be such a great resource for our buyers to be proactive in looking out to the supplier base. This is going to put a lot more power in the hands of the buyers. It is going to be such a great tool.”

Women of the Vine and Spirits
(Photo by: Maridav / BigStock.com)

Women Powered Brands, created by Women of the Vine & Spirits, addresses the importance of sourcing from gender diverse businesses which in turn supports economic empowerment and inclusion, building strong economics and communities.

Want access to start exploring the Database? You can fill out the buyer access request form here.

Participate in the 2023 DE&I Baseline Report

Women of the Vine & Spirits and Deloitte LLP will be conducting the 2023 “Women Raising the Bar” DE&I Report in mid-fall 2022. This industry-wide study and report will be open to all in beverage alcohol and participation from on/off-premise is highly encouraged.

“We are thrilled to be working with Women of the Vine & Spirits to do this research to try and create more equitable opportunities and outcomes for women, and people of all identities who have been historically marginalized – this is core to our DEI mission at Deloitte,” noted Kimberly Betts, global consumer industry diversity equity and inclusion leader, Deloitte LLP.

If you’d like to participate, you can sign-up to be notified when the survey is open for responses – click here.

For more information on Women of the Vine & Spirits – an all-encompassing global membership organization dedicated to boldly pushing the wine, beer and spirits industry toward a more diverse, equitable and inclusive era – visit WomenoftheVine.com.

Olivia Campbell graduated from UC Berkeley in 2020, and her experiences on campus have informed her personal mission to actively work to create safer and more inclusive spaces. In her current role at Women of the Vine & Spirits (WOTVS), Campbell works with members across the three-tier system to support their internal initiatives and goals, as well as to coordinate content, educational live chats and networking events. She also serves the role of donor development assistant for the Women of the Vine & Spirits Foundation, the charitable arm of WOTVS Membership organization.

Plan to Attend or Participate in the
Vibe Conference, Feb. 27 – March 1, 2023

To learn more about the latest trends, issues and hot topics, and to experience and taste the best products within the on-premise beverage community, plan to attend the Vibe Conference, Feb. 27 to March 1, 2023 at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina. Visit VibeConference.com.

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