Reshaping the conversation

Tuesday, 1 November 2022

Why reshaping the conversation and leading the change within the food and beverage sector is key to its continued growth. By KARIN KRAUSE WESSELS, managing director at Edward Snell & Co.

For too long unconscious bias has limited gender equality in the workplace, but the COVID-19 pandemic might just have changed that. In our post-COVID-19 reality, we see that the workforce collectively is asking for improved work-life balance, demanding increased focus on psychological safety, better two-way communication, increased flexibility and, generally, a more empathetic culture. Things that women have always naturally brought to the table, but which have been overlooked and underappreciated. And it is within traditionally male-dominated industries such as the spirits sector where we will increasingly need these skills. Three things that businesses will need to look at to fast track gender equality are a more visionary talent strategy, increased mentorship/ sponsorship programmes and amplified narratives around female success stories.


When developing recruitment practices and crafting talent matrices within your business, the softer leadership skills need equal weighting to the traditional functional skills – both in terms of assessments and in case studies or referrals. Therefore the “how” and the “what” require equal consideration throughout the employee journey. This will ensure that talent practices drive improved inclusivity, and will also guarantee the hiring and promotion of more balanced individuals to lead the business. Encouraging female mentors, sponsors and coaches across the business is critical. Not just for females to be coached by other females who have walked the walk, but also for females to start coaching/mentoring males to expand world views and open up more inclusive mindsets across the business. Finally, the importance of storytelling cannot be underestimated. The idealised business leadership narrative has traditionally been around the importance of power dominance, assertiveness, and competitiveness in leading a successful business – with quite a finite view on success. However, I believe that the leadership style required to realise meaningful progress in the current ambiguous economic landscape needs to be more transformational. Transformational leadership ultimately inspires employees to find personal purpose through the work that they do and, as such, unlocks discretionary employee energy to increase effectiveness, efficiency and meaning around business delivery. The above practices will not only assist in gender equality, but also in more broad based diversity and equality. Therefore, I implore you to continuously relook your talent strategies, your mentorship/sponsorship programmes and the narratives you amplify across your business to ensure greater inclusivity. Why is this important? Because when your organisation can more closely mirror and empathise with the customers it represents, the more easily you can navigate and thrive in our current economic climate.

Reshaping the conversation