If you believe the 16th century legend of Marie Brizard and her famous story of liqueur fame, if you know of her business challenges she triumphed over to be known as Frances first female Master Liqueurist, you’ll believe equality provides a proven quality, evidenced by a global brand that continues to grow.
The Fine Drinks Movement recently engaged four young industry women for the role of educating our industry on the subject of Marie’s work and liqueurs. Kate McGraw, Sydney, Serena O’Callaghan, Melbourne, Billie-Jean Bray, Brisbane and Elise Godwin of Perth all gathered at Natalie Ng’s downtown hideaway bar, Door Knock. The two day shoot capture a series of video lectures including; liqueur history, liqueur production, cocktail service skills and cocktail mixing methods plus a selection of need-to-know liqueur cocktails. The result is a comprehensive Liqueurs and Cocktail Bartending education available free to anyone.
A correlation between historical liqueur matriarch and four ladies of the modern cocktail provides an opportunity to effectually snapshot our industry and see how we’ve grown to embraced equality since Marie Brizard’s days. For example; none of our FDM educators needed to wed a man to enable their aspirations or dreams like Brizard did some 250 years ago. Unlike Brizard’s repressive indigenous environment, all FDM educators can vote and as a result of this inclusion we’ve seen great change – enough to say that while marriage is an opportunity for any of them, it nowadays needn’t necessarily be with someone of the opposite gender.
Recently the national Rum Dairies Cocktail Competition held in Melbourne was taken out by Elise Godwin, Dominion League, Perth. As a result Godwin won the rights to design her own spiced rum that’ll go on to be sold and carry her name perhaps in a similar fashion to Brizard’s early days with her Anisette. The competition had her competing against a strong male contingent of competitors through state and national finals. “It didn’t really phase me although I can see why it deters other women. It can be a bit of a boys club.” She said.
Godwin’s awarded acclaim amongst a 70% male dominated industry is an acknowledgment of her talent rather than gender equality though. The old guard, the boy’s club bartender fraternity is fast becoming a thing of the past.
“I can hold my own, I’m constantly learning and improving my skills to be better at my craft not because I’m challenged by the guys, but because it’s something I’m passionate about myself.” She says.
“What is still challenging is sexism and treatment of women by customers though.” Godwin claims.
“I think some men just don’t like being ‘cut off’ by a female. Getting kicked out for bad behaviour and barred from the venue by a woman is altogether just too way much for some guys though.” She says laughing.
But balance is a conversation we need continual focus on. Gender equality is a constant conversation in our industry and we can site people like Alex Kretana, Artesian Bar, London and his brainchild summit of industry leaders at the Paris 2017 P(our) Symposium as a good example. It turned its attention to gender (among other topics), recognising the issues within our industry and examine how to embrace change, equality of race, gender, religion and expand this movement further.
The future needs to be about diversity, it needs to be empowering and it needs to include everyone! We need to collaborate to educate, and inspire each other to create new leaders, that will drive our industry forward.
To show how diversity and inclusion save money and boost revenue, while also highlighting the long-term value of these initiatives is often a way to get that equality buy-in, it’s an important step. As a recent McKinsey study shows, “Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.” Additionally, a 2015 study from Bersin by Deloitte showed that diverse companies had 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee over a three-year period than non-diverse companies did.
Do Your Part
So what can you do? Confront unconscious bias. You know, that thought that’s engrained because it’s not going to go away by itself. Everyone has unconscious bias. In today’s workplace, it is time for everyone to stop tiptoeing around the issue. These biases are based on our personal experiences and how we see the world. Understanding the reality of unconscious bias is an important component of working to reduce it in the workplace. Providing diversity and inclusion to identify and eliminate biased language in job listings, ensuring that underrepresented colleagues have a voice, and opening up opportunities at all levels of your organisation are all ways to build a more inclusive, bias-free work environment.
Gladly, encouragingly and excitably we all need to seek, promote and embrace an even playing field both for guests and workmates. Take this conversation to the team at the next staffies – float the idea of voicing your views at your next team meeting. Write a policy and post it on the wall. After all, weaknesses are just strengths waiting to be discovered.
Words By Hayden Wood