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Embrace Difference Council: A Year in the Making

Embrace Difference Council: A Year in the Making

Simon Durrant, Chair of the Embrace Difference Council, discusses what has been achieved in the year since the Women in Drinks and Diversity and Inclusion Councils were unified. In an interview with Ioni Doherty, he calls on senior leaders to support the International Women’s Day event in Sydney as the gender equity discussion shifts focus.

In 2019, the Embrace Difference Council was formed, amalgamating the Women in Drinks and Diversity and Inclusion Councils. In the year since its inception, Council chair Simon Durrant has encountered first-hand the pervasive mood that the time is right for change in the equity, diversity and inclusion spaces.

“There is a huge desire for change and loads of energy, enthusiasm and passion within member organisations to make a difference,” he said.

“This year, the rubber really hits the road. We know what we want, and we are starting our journey to help companies improve the way they embrace diversity and inclusion within our industry.”

Since last year, the Council’s workstreams have been established, members appointed to each and the objectives and initiatives of each workstream aligned. 

With the first Embrace Difference event of the year upon us, Durrant is calling on senior leaders in the industry to really throw their support behind the International Women’s Day event in Sydney on Friday, March 6.

He said that the event will feel different to attendees this year, evidence of a turning point in the gender equity discussion.

“You will feel the difference in tone as the event takes a more balanced approach, inclusive of both genders. Gender equity needs buy in from all of us and it benefits all of us. While we celebrate the achievements of women in industry at the event, we hope that all genders will find the event accessible,” he explained.

“The Embrace Difference Council calls on all senior leaders to attend the event and show their support by being there.”

There are three workstreams in the Embrace Difference Council and each workstream is managed by a steering committee:

Create Difference – Gender

Led by Danielle Beale, National Business Manager and Alan Ko, National Strategy and Planning Manager, Coca Cola Amatil 

See Difference – Diversity

Led by Madelyn Ring, Vice President People, CUB

Leverage Difference – Inclusion

Led by Nicole Stanners, Marketing Director, Campari

The HRD Forum sits within the Council and is led by Christian Campanella, HR, Communications and Sustainability and Responsibility Director at Pernod Ricard.

Working under the same banner enables the Council to be efficient, effective and unified. When it comes to examining diversity, gender and inclusion, it is done with the same lens and efforts can be consolidated when building tools and scorecards to measure how businesses are performing in the equity space, no matter how far along they are on the diversity and inclusion curve.

The Council enjoys great support from both from the Drinks Association’s board and senior leaders of its member organisations, with Simon making particular note of the high quality of submissions to the 2019 Australian Drinks Association Awards and giving credit to all who submitted entries.

Submissions will open soon for this year's Australian Drinks Association Awards Contribution to Industry categories.

“Diversity and inclusion live beyond HR. Quite simply, they must do in order to gain traction and for us to really change the way we do things. What we are seeing now is the recognition that we need to start promoting and embracing diversity and inclusion at all levels of business,” he said.

Looking to the future, Durrant considers what it looks like to ensure that the equitable workforce is as strong and skilled as it can be: “How do we ensure we are gender neutral from the ground up? We build diversity and inclusion in from the ground up. Provide opportunities for personal growth and professional development to ensure that we have a depth and well-rounded – rather than tokenistic – diversity in senior leadership in the future.”

It is going to be a transformational time in the drinks industry under the guidance of the Embrace Difference Council and everyone’s invited to get interested, be excited and to be a part of it.

Click here to book tickets to the Embrace Difference International Women's Day event.