Here we go again… “what’s all the fuss about?”
Sometimes when those in power make mistakes, the resulting discourse can be intelligent, respectful and curious.
I’ve seen that this week with conversations I’ve had at senior levels of Wine Australia.
But it also brings out the trolls, those who forcefully question why there is even need for conversation in the first place… stop being such a snowflake.
One is encouraging and moves things forward, the other is a slap in the face to all the work done by many good people over many years and pulls us backwards.
The statistics are very clear.
When speaking broadly, women hold just 17 percent of chair positions, 31 percent of directorships, represent 19 percent of CEOs and 34 percent of key management personnel in the Australian workforce.
In our sector it gets lower, with women representing just 9 percent of winemakers and 10 percent of viticulturists.
Statistically, we’re not safe at work, with 39 percent of women reporting workplace sexual harassment.
We need only look at the tasting reported last week for a taste of how this activity continues to pervade work events in particular.
Of course, diversity isn’t just about men and women. Members of the BIPOC and LGBTQI+ communities are severely under-represented in our sector, in key roles, committees and visibility.
Diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace remain critical issues which need the support and funding from key sector bodies to enable change.
The fact that this group are overwhelmingly cisgender, male, hetero and white is an indictment on our sector’s lack of diversity.
A stark reminder of the work that still must be done.
For a committee of this make-up to issue a statement that sticks an unfounded ‘diverse’ label on our sector stings.
It came across as a dusting of the hands… ‘job done, now we can return to the real issues, folks.’
Those of us who do not look like these 15 white blokes have been left reeling. Have we been heard? Is all our work invisible?
Those who have spoken up, publicly and privately, haven’t done so out of disdain for the stakeholder consultation process.
As a representative body, this is what we expect of Wine Australia.
The CEOs and MDs of the biggest producers is rightly one of those groups.
Could this statement have been clearer on the role this group plays in the overall picture, certainly.
But again, that’s not what has caused such utter disappointment.
It’s 2023 and we’re in a climate of diminishing global rights.
We need only look at what’s happening in the US to have a very real fear of what can happen when diversity isn’t seen as a present and serious issue.
If it can happen there, why wouldn’t it happen here? This is why we make noise. This is why we must call others into conversation when things don’t go right.
I am thankful that the first, uncomfortable steps into dialogue have been made this week and encouraged that they may continue in earnest.
What I am seriously hoping is that good people continue to make noise, talk and step up when it’s needed.
If you don’t understand why, ask. Seek the opinion and experiences of others who don’t look like you.
Conversations are the key here, whether they are public or one-on-one.
The more we talk, the further we move out of outdated, overwhelmed and overpowering modes of thought and action and move into one of opportunity.
And isn’t opportunity what we want (and need) for our sector, now more than ever?
Opinions expressed are entirely my own.