Though we’re firm believers that women are for life, not just International Women’s Day, this is a great opportunity to shine a spotlight on some of the initiatives out there to help women further their careers in all aspects of the drinks industry.
“The OurWhisky Foundation’s mentorship programme is the first of its kind for the global whisky industry,” says OurWhisky founder Becky Paskin.
Twice a year, the Foundation matches women and non-binary individuals from around the world with mentors to help them achieve their goals.
“Over the course of six months, our mentees not only benefit from personal guidance from some of the biggest names in the whisky industry, they are given the opportunity to attend a series of workshops covering confidence-building skills to personal branding and networking, as well as connect with each other via a dedicated Whatsapp group,” Paskin adds.
And it’s all free – funded by the Foundation’s corporate partners.
“We are currently working with our second intake of mentees and we couldn’t be prouder of their progress. Already we have so many success stories – several women have been offered jobs they never would have had the confidence to even apply for before the programme; some mentees have done their first ever distillation runs and blended whisky with their mentors; our mentors have hosted meetups at various conferences and events around the world; one of our mentees was even hired by her mentor.”
Applications for the next intake (July-December 2023) will open on May 1. Any woman or non-binary individual working in whisky or wanting to work in whisky is eligible to apply. More info here.
Pub company and brewer Greene King is working towards having women make up 50% of its senior management roles by 2030. The ambition forms part of its wider Diversity and Inclusion strategy and is supported by Greene Sky, its women’s focused employee-led inclusion group.
“Greene Sky’s ambition is to help more women shape the future of the business and is composed of women and allies across all levels of the company,” the brewer says. “As well as advising on current issues faced by team members, its role is to encourage female empowerment and inclusion across all of Greene King.”
Initiatives already in place include mentoring, inclusive leadership training and a new maternity policy, “with more to come”.
Drinks marketing agency Wonderworks runs a mentoring programme called Wonder Women. “Our mentoring programme is there to help and support women in the drinks industry: a female-centred environment helping them achieve what they want in a way that makes sense to them,” explains Sarah Wildman-King, co-founder and managing director of Wonderworks.
The Wonder Women programme offers 12 weeks of mentoring for women who work, or want to work, in the drinks industry. The sessions are bi-weekly, inviting mentees to share “questions, challenges, worries and anything else”. For more info, click here.
Mixers and tonics company Double Dutch has launched its Female Bartending Scholarship Programme for the third year. Applications for the programme open from March 8, with eight places available for women, trans women and non-binary people at any stage of their career.
This year’s scholarship will feature trailblazers from within the industry including Anna Sebastian, founder of Celebrate Her, an initiative to showcase female bartenders and offer networking opportunities, Laura Willoughby, founder of Club Soda, a global movement committed to help people drink mindfully and live well and Carmen O’Neal, founder of 58 Gin Distillery.
The programme involves three months of curated sessions covering a wide range of topics including mixology, cocktail families, signature serves, building menus, flavour pairings, mindful drinking, social media, marketing and professional coaching.
Incubator fund Distill Ventures has a “pre-accelerator programme” specifically designed for early stage drinks businesses led by founders from underrepresented communities. Successful applicants receive an initial investment of up to £350,000 and 6-9 months of support from Distill Ventures.
Ara Carvallo, portfolio and I&D director, Distill Ventures, said: “Distill Ventures is fully committed to supporting women to build successful businesses in a traditionally male-dominated industry. So far, through our pre-accelerator we have invested £2 million into drinks brands led by entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities outside of North America. The programme has attracted applications from a diverse range of founders from all around the world, over half of which identify as women.”
“The Pre-Accelerator is ultimately a vehicle for us to offer bespoke, hands-on guidance along with funding at all stages of growth, whilst ensuring that the founders lead their brands through the journey.”