Gill Gordon-Smith was named ‘Woman of Inspiration’ at the 2020 Australian Women in Wine Awards on Tuesday night. This is her acceptance speech.
By Gill Gordon-Smith
Wow, what a year. I am so inspired by all of you – every woman who has stepped up and shown up and I’m sincerely thankful to the Australian Women In Wine Awards and the Board members who have made this possible.
This year is the first in over 40 years I haven’t been on a plane, following my passions, recharging and getting energised.
Like all of us I’ve been forced to sit still, to stay in place. And that’s made me think about what’s important – especially about what I want from this next phase of my life as I move into my sixties.
I was very surprised to get a call from Jane. I was actually in the middle of a class and had to call her back from the car.
I was really emotional for many reasons. But once it sank in it felt so amazing to be seen and acknowledged, which is something so many people in many industries don’t get the chance to experience.
I’ve had several incarnations in my life, I spent many years flying with Qantas, shamelessly spruiking Australian wine around the world and when I left to dive back deeper into the wine industry again, one of the most important takeaways for me was, when a mask drops from the unit above your head, put your own mask on before assisting others.
Because if you’re not following your passion, if you’re not following your own goals and moving towards the best you, not allowing yourself to fail and grow, then you can’t be there for others.
I believe strongly in possibility. Connecting with people through the lense of education is really important and as women we need to arm ourselves with education. Not only about wine but about marketing, financing and more.
I come from a family of strong women and I have seen generations fighting for change and equality and it’s too slow.
I’m actually fed up with having the same conversations constantly.
We need change and we need it now.
I want to see more diversity and inclusion in the industry.
I want to see different faces and hear new voices and this can only be achieved by recognising our earned and unearned privilege. And using this to amplify other women’s voices.
Putting forward other people, helping them to get a seat at the table is something that we can all do if we have some power to do that.
So use it for good.
I want more women in the room and I want practical and thoughtful solutions to solve issues.
At a recent tasting I was the only female minimal invervention winemaker, and one of the other women couldn’t get a babysitter, so let’s look for practical and simple ways we can assist like possibly having a creche.
Women create life. We should have an equal say in it.
It would be amazing if we didn’t need women-only awards, but obviously we’re still not there. And I’m fed up. Action is required.
I would really like to see this in my lifetime, and if that requires speaking up and calling things out to effect change, then that’s what needs to happen.
Creating community and connection and mentoring is really important and I’ve been really lucky to work with some amazing women and in a formal situation through Wine Communicators Australia I’ve been working with two fantastic women who are so inspiring. They’re intelligent, they’ve got a great ability to reflect and they’re actually doing the work and they’re moving towards what they want. They’re shining stars and I cannot wait to see what they achieve.
I’m competitive with myself by nature, I love to study and challenge myself but I have made a decision to not apply for awards or scholarships because there are still not enough spots for women, and this is my affirmative action.
I challenge you all to amplify new voices that need to be heard and valued, congratulate each other and put more seats at the table.
Jane Thomson was one of the first people to pick up the phone when I won Wine Communicator of the Year, and the silence of others was deafening.
Bring someone along with you and get things done.
It’s time to embrace true diversity and to enact real change.
And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this award.
• See the full list of winners from the Australian Women in Wine Awards here.
Photo credit: Ben Macmahon Macmahon Images