The nomination for Workplace Champion of Change was at first hard to get my head around, as we consider Brokenwood Wines to be a ‘normal’ employer.
Surely everyone does what we do but given more thought, the answer is probably no. Looking back over 45 years of involvement in the wine industry, it has only been in recent years that the blokey, work hard/play hard image of wineries has been challenged. Having said that, I do remember one of Australia’s top winemakers of recent times, Caroline Dunn, saying to me during vintage in the early 90s at Brokenwood that the idea of working 18 hours for days on end was ‘bullshit’. For both guys as well as girls. Part of the ongoing Brokenwood philosophy was formed in the 70s when a number of our shareholders smashed through the glass ceiling in their chosen professions and these women didn’t take shit from anyone. Something I found out first hand in my early years at Brokenwood.
The change in the way wineries operate shows a maturing of wine as a business. Once the industry was viewed as just blokes doing lots of physical stuff: ploughing the vineyard, shovelling grapes or marc, swinging on a press handle and all captured in the magic photos of Max Dupain of Mount Pleasant in the 50s. This was the romantic wine industry, sweat and toil, work hard/play hard. Even through the 60s and 70s, wine was just part of the liquor industry, long boozy lunches – work hard/play hard. Wine as a business nowadays is not as physical and I’m not for one moment saying women can’t handle this – our vineyard manager and offsider are both female, it’s just that as an integrated business that involves manufacture, marketing, sales and finance, ignoring over half the population is plain stupid.
As Brokenwood production has grown over the past 34 years, staffing levels have steadily increased and we arrive to this point in 2016 where of our 30+ employees, 20+ are female. More importantly, management positions are shared 50/50 with some departments such as Vineyard, Finance, Marketing and Clubs being 100 percent female. Often described as a ‘wine university’ Brokenwood has nurtured the careers of many successful viticulturists, winemakers and wine marketers as well as promoting and encouraging women in all aspects of running a business. The photo taken in our barrel shed to celebrate the Australian Women in Wine Workplace Champion Award shows a few of our valuable staff. One not present is the Brokenwood operations and finance manager, who is on maternity leave. Candice Crawford joined us many years ago as senior accountant and was an obvious choice for the top job when it became available. A number of her staff under her watch have completed or are still studying Bachelor of Accounting/CPA. Kayla Mansfield (second from right) comfortably steps up to the role in Candice’s absence. To the left of Kayla is Carlee Watson, manager Clubs and Direct Sales. Carlee and her team are responsible for our three Wine Clubs and oversee the highly successful Graveyard Lunch, coming up to its 34th year, as well as dinners up and down the Eastern seaboard.
On the far left is Laree Wasson (laboratory technician and a damn fine mandala artist), Lauretta Parker (marketing manager), Celie Mellis (marketing co-ordinator and marathon runner), Katrina Barry (vineyard manager). Then to my left standing: Kate Sturgess (assistant winemaker), Kristy Stamp (accounts officer), Sophie Cerrato (Wine Club assistant), and Kayla and Carlee. Seated are Amie Potyrala (assistant accountant and Kylie Williamson (export logistics). Obviously there are a number not present, some full time, some part time, some looking after family, some studying and some just being friendly to customers.
And by the way, we have some terrific blokes working here as well.
Written by Iain Riggs – Workplace Champion of Change.