Pink Boots and Gage launch leadership scholarships

Pink Boots Society Australia is launching its Leadership Program again this year with help from Gage Roads Brewing Co.

Now in its second year and being coordinated by last year’s recipient Emma Locke, venue manager at Beerfarm, the program offers a 10 scholarships across the country, to help support women in the alcohol industry grow and develop their careers. Like last year, Gage Roads has sponsored this year’s cohort of Pink Boots Society attendees.

Zoe Ottaway, marketing and communications manager at Brick Lane Brewing, was a recipient of one of the scholarships last year.

“Any opportunity for further education is worth taking, especially when it is for something not directly associated to my hands-on work,” she said.

Three WA members of Pink Boots Society will have access to two leadership courses from the Australian Institute of Management, whilst seven members in the rest of Australia can access other AIM courses, both on and offline through the scholarships.

Dani Keep, brewer at Stone & Wood Brewing also benefited from the leadership program.

“The content was practical to the workplace environment and specific towards interacting with other people as a new leader or an aspiring leader,” she explained.

“One of the most important things I got out of it was I learnt how to frame what I want to say differently depending on who I am talking to, because everyone is different and people react in different ways depending on how they are approached or spoken to.

“Which is an important skill as a leader, to have that emotional intelligence to meet other people halfway and make them feel heard but also achieve what you set out to in that day.

“How to deal with conflict and harness your specific communication style to achieve this was another big learning as well.”

Joanna Webster, venue manager at CoConspirators Brewing Co. said that the past few years had been tough in hospitality.

“I applied for the leadership program because after a couple of years of uncertainty in the hospitality industry, I was feeling like some of the spark of confidence had drained out of me and imposter syndrome was starting to set in.

“I was about to start a new role managing a venue and I felt like I needed to reevaluate my values in leadership and how to implement them into a new position.”

The role of women and the lack of diversity in the industry has been a hot topic in recent years, especially following the accusations of sexism in the US which led to women across the globe addressing sexism in their industries.

Women in leadership

Visibility, education, upskilling and circumstantial disadvantages are just a few of the things that have been identified as potentially limiting women in the brewing industry.

Dani Keep suggested that part of this is because of statistics – inevitably there will be fewer female leaders if the industry has fewer women in it – but that the onus should also fall on breweries themselves to change this.

“Women need to start backing themselves more, it’s hard in this industry when we are outnumbered because you want to feel like you know everything and not have imposter syndrome,” she said.

“But the onus shouldn’t be on us, breweries should be looking at how they are advertising for their roles, what audience they are reaching and how to get it out there to more female applicants.”

The Pink Boots leadership scholarship recipients all agreed that a key driver of diversity in the industry lies in appealing to a wider audience.

“Changing the way breweries market their product can also do a lot to changing the way beer is viewed as being a man’s drink and in part to it being an industry where men work,” said Stone & Wood’s Keep.

Joanna Webster of CoConspirators agreed, but also highlighted nuance within the industry.

“The brewing industry varies so much depending on the size of the business,” she said.

“There’s a lot of personalities in smaller businesses where the impenetrable and tight-knit “boys club” conundrum can seem daunting for women to be a part of, let alone be selected over a male colleague for progression.

“I think that changing the messaging in male-targeted marketing including the brand stories focusing on the “blokes who drink beer” would lift the curtain into a more diverse audience. Who wants to make beer for only 50 per cent of the population anyway?

“It’s so much more approachable when it is inclusive of everyone, which in turn inspires more diversity working in the industry. Still, the most valuable thing we can do is keep challenging those conversations to support and lift up other women in and outside of the workplace.”

But it’s not just widening the industry’s appeal that can help. Ensuring working practices such as better parental leave are geared towards the challenges women face will also help.

“Having flexible and supportive workplace environments for women having families is also important in attracting more females into roles in the industry and keeping the ones they do have,” explained Dani Keep.

“Being pregnant in manual production roles can be tricky and breweries need to be prepared to think of this as a possibility and have the supports in place to make having a baby while brewing or packing a smooth journey and coming back to work while still being a mum and doing shift work more flexible with child care commitments.

“This is how you attract more women to the industry – by having a workplace environment that is understanding and supportive to a more gender diverse workforce. Breweries can do a lot to change the culture of the industry they just have to choose to and it’s not often the easy route, but it’s the right way forward.”

“I think it is safe to retire the old narrative around there not being enough women either in brewing or wanting leadership roles,” Ottaway said.

“The drastic increase of Pink Boots Society members, and the diversity of the careers and roles members hold, proves there are women out there who want to get more involved in their industry. Change needs to start by an understanding that leaders aren’t cut from the same cloth and the reason why someone is overlooked as a potential leader could well be the reason why it could work.

“When I can’t even see others like myself, I know as an industry we can do so much better, do so much more and do it for the better.”

Applications for Leadership Scholarships are open to Pink Boots Society Australia members, with non-members able to sign up here to be eligible to apply.

Applications opened this week and will close on 15th August.

Hear more about scholarship coordinator Emma Locke about hospitality, women in leadership positions and the Pink Boots Leadership Program.

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