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An Open Letter to Wine Australia

By Friday 9 June 2023June 15th, 2023One Comment

This is not a nice to do.

It is not an optional consideration.

It is not something we will get to.

It is not something we can’t do in family wine businesses.

It is a must do for ethical, commercial and social reasons – and there is a part of me that cannot believe I still need to be pointing this out.

It is urgent.

Mark my words, there is no time left to act on this issue if we still want to look like leaders – let alone be leaders of the global wine world.

Several years ago when the DEIW committee was first created, we wrote a charter, rallied the sector and gained a significant number of corporate and individual signatories to the cause.

The spotlight was on industry committees, panels and speaker lineups at conferences, judging panels for wine shows and so much more.

We had momentum and it seemed we could finally shift the archaic, outdated, protectionist attitudes of the sector elite and patriarchal leadership.

Today we are further behind on core measures of diversity than when DEIW started four years ago.

In recent weeks we have had several acts of breathtaking ignorance to this issue.

And when these shortcomings have been pointed out, what has been the response?

Defensiveness, doubling down on the tired rhetoric and a commitment that “of course we are allies, supporting the cause.”

Complete and utter rubbish.

This is a diverse sector – in terms of those who sell, buy and consume our products but it is not a diverse sector in our boardrooms, leadership teams, industry committees and lunch clubs.

The answers to the challenges we face in a rapidly changing global market will need fresh thinking, new ideas, smashing of paradigms and the courage to do something new, listen to different voices and not be beholden to the power of the levy payer.

On Thursday 11 May I spoke about the need to address these challenges and more, as a guest of Australian Grape & Wine, in my capacity as a DEIW committee member to the State and Regions Forum.

A great forum and excellent initiative to help shape the One Sector Plan.

The publicly expressed response to my session – when I raised the same issues about the lack of diversity in the CEO meeting (May 8) has me still reeling and incredibly frustrated.

Why is pointing out they are all (but one) men a bad thing?

How could that observation have risked the future of the discussions?

Why should we be patient when we have been calling for action on these issues for years?

Let me be clear, I did not question the forum itself, but simply pointed out the lack of diversity in the group.

I want this to be a standing topic of discussion at every Wine Australia board meeting.

I am calling for a clear action plan for Wine Australia to be the benchmark and leader in this area – review your committees, encourage diversity – not of State and Business Size – but of age, gender, background, culture, real, genuine diversity – not lip service and platitudes.

Invest in critical programs to address the losses of capable and qualified women in viticulture and oenology, reignite your support for Australian Women in Wine… the list goes on.

And to all of you – my colleagues across the sector – stand up!

Stop standing by.


Imagine how different this letter could be if just one of the attendees at the States and Regions Forum stood up and said, “It’s OK, I’ve got your back” – in public?

Imagine how different it could be if everyone who felt like I do – in private – got up the courage to speak in public?

What side of history will you be on?

I know where I stand.

Angie Bradbury
Independent consultant

Photograph: Angie Bradbury (left) with Jane Thomson.

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One Comment

  • Paul Greblo says:

    Well said, Angie.
    I remember a visit to our winery some twenty five years ago by the board of the then Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation. What has stuck in my mind since that visit, was the lack of board members’ encouragement and downright putdown of our ambitions as a small family winery. Not to be deterred we moved on and bit by bit, realised our ambitions. Our thanks go to our customers (and their encouragement), many of whom are still with us today.
    I trust that Wine Australia will sit up and listen to the families that, through their sheer hard work, give the wine loving public not just great wine, but great experiences.

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