There are lots of reasons why the wine world should ramp up its attempts to address problems of diversity and equality. Elaine Chukan Brown covers many of them in her post “Widening the Wine World“:
The wine industry will surely benefit by working to make the wine world more diverse. Studies have repeatedly shown the most successful businesses are those with the greatest diversity at [the] decision-making level. With the various economic challenges being faced globally, wine businesses would be smart to strengthen their ability to succeed on multiple levels.
I have another reason why wine businesses should promote diversity. With initiatives such as the proposed Florida law that would effectively prevent school children from learning about racism, and the book burning going on in schools and libraries throughout the country, we can no longer count on educational institutions to keep the focus on diversity. It thus falls on all of us in private organizations including wine businesses to treat everyone with respect and expand opportunities for people too often left out because of racial or gender bias and discrimination, especially at the decision-making level.
In this regard, Elaine makes another important point. Referring to the increase in scholarships for certification programs, she writes:
By focusing on education, we treat the problem of diversity as one based in the candidates themselves and miss that the problem is largely in the way the wine world itself operates. When we assume education must take a traditional classroom and certification model, we miss an even older tradition of education based in learning by doing, on-the-job training, and community-based mentoring.
Wine production, wine marketing, and wine consumption don’t happen in the classroom. The vineyard, the winery, the wine shop, the tasting room, the interactions at the restaurant table—this is where wine takes place. It’s important to expand educational opportunities, but the need to advance equality of opportunity can’t stop there. All levels of the industry must be working toward that goal if we are to achieve success. A longer article by Brown detailing practical steps various stakeholders can take to expand diversity is available here.
Reactionaries seem to be gaining the upper hand at the moment but they won’t succeed if we maintain the commitment to diversity in the organizations we are part of.