Canada is strong not in spite of our cultural differences, but because of them. This is a mindset the Canadian wine industry should learn from and reflect upon as we continue to spearhead diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs. Reckoning that progress cannot be made unless we work together. Reckoning the future is dismal unless we respect our differences and put the people who make up this industry at the heart of every decision we make.

Diversity here refers to the individual characteristics of the people in wine that make them unique. These characteristics include gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, physical abilities, as well as a person’s life experiences and circumstances. Diversity enriches our industry by encouraging novel perspectives that would lead to better decisions and solutions, spur breakthrough innovations, and make the collective stronger.

Vinequity recognizes diversity as a source of strength and works with different organizations to diversify their workforce in order to acknowledge the range of knowledge, perspective, and experience of the people in the wine industry.

Equity, the second alphabet in DEI, must be a priority alongside diversity. Perhaps a good starting point is to clarify the definition of equity. Equity – not to be confused with equality, where everybody is simply given the same amount of opportunities – recognizes that each individual comes from a different background and circumstance, and therefore allocates the resources needed to reach an equal baseline.

For instance, without equity, even the most diverse company will have a one-dimensional leadership team in charge of making decisions. The representation of BIPOC may be equal, but they may be missing the empowerment and allyship needed to reach leadership ranks. To make matters worse, the lack of equity could turn into a lack of cognitive diversity among leaders, which limits the range of problem-solving approaches and hinders growth.

Vinequity takes measures towards equity through mentorship, scholarship, and job placement opportunities. By doing so, it is feeding the ladder towards leadership with a diverse group of talents that will be responsible for the industry’s future, making it more agile and resilient.

Last but not least, the DEI trifacta would not be complete without inclusion. Inclusion is extremely important for the wine industry to build a strong sense of connection and belonging. Without inclusion, diversity efforts will not succeed.

People are often the best versions of themselves when they are able to express their authenticity wholeheartedly. But in order to be authentic, one must first feel included. For this reason, inclusiveness is to empower the diverse members of the industry to use their voice, and more importantly, to participate in decision making, increase the amount of power they have within a broader group, and make them feel like they truly belong.

At Vinequity, inclusiveness is achieved by establishing Canada’s first national directory for BIPOC wine professionals, nurturing this community through events, cultivating a safe and inclusive environment for its members and allies to meet, support, and learn from each other, while feeling empowered to unlock their ambitions.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion must work together to drive outcomes and contribute to a stronger wine industry. With this in mind, Vinequity looks forward to expanding our allyship with a diverse group of partners and building an industry that is as strong and colourful as our beautiful nation.

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– Olivia Siu