Alan Ko: why it's worth striving for diversity & inclusion
Alan Ko, Steering Co Leader, Create Difference – Gender, Embrace Difference, tells Ioni Doherty he looks to his customer base for inspiration when it comes to chasing gender equity, diversity and inclusion.
Checking in from paternity leave after the arrival of his second child, Ko (pictured above with fellow Steering Co Leader Danielle Beale), National Strategy & Planning Manager for Alcohol & Coffee, Coca-Cola Amatil, is excited about the year ahead as co-lead of the gender equity steering committee. He has high hopes for what the workstream can achieve, starting with the International Women’s Day event in March.
“It’s the first year that we have had a male and female keynote speaker and our first with an MC of distinct ethnic heritage. It’s a significant shift as we endeavour to educate the industry that gender equity is an issue for all, for the benefit of all,” said Ko.
Internationally renowned journalist, Anjali Rao, who presents on CNN International will MC the day and introduce keynote speakers Erin Molan and her father, Jim. The panel for the day includes Rose Scott (VP Sales, CUB), Trish Unwin (General Manager Organisational Effectiveness, Coles Liquor) and David Smith (Managing Director, Diageo).
This shift in tone and the inclusion again this year of male and female speakers on the panel is a deliberate choice by the Embrace Difference Council, intended to reflect the very premise on which the council’s gender equity workstream is based, namely that gender equity needs buy in from all and is good for everyone.
Ko is hopeful that this more equitable approach will also result in a more evenly split audience on the day itself.
“Instead of being an event about women, run by women, talking to other women, we’d like to open up the conversation to all the men out there. It is only through participation and advocacy of both parties, that lasting change can be achieved,” he says.
Beyond the March event, Ko sees a great potential in the State Chapter events with the Gender Workstream intending to reinvigorate them as spaces for debate, networking opportunities and professional development and learning in the diversity and inclusion space.
With more than 15 years’ experience in FMCG, Alan notes that the drinks industry has been slower to adapt than the banking and technology industries.
“As an industry, we should look and be representative of our customer base. It is the best kind of starting point, it is immediately available to all of us in the industry and can inform us on our diversity and inclusion journey," he noted.
“As a younger person of ethnic descent, I’m excited about playing an active role in encouraging our industry to be more proactive when it comes to diversity and inclusion and as a parent, I want to promote a workplace that is diverse and inclusive so that my children can grow up in an environment that is free from bias.”
For Ko, diversity and inclusion is worth striving for and insists that out journey towards it should start today.
Watch what Ko has to say about inclusion below: