The founder of the Equal Measures campaign tells Katherine Price about his mentorship programme in collaboration with the Mixing Class, an independent supplier of WSET spirits education, to improve diversity within the cocktail and spirits industry.
What is the aim of the Equal Measures Education & Mentorship Project?
The aim is to give individuals the chance to fulfil their potential and progress their careers. It's aimed at those who may have faced challenges because of geographical reasons or financial restrictions.
I was thinking long and hard about organisations that have had to cut back on jobs recently. There's so much great talent there, and I thought, what happens to them next? I wanted to try and give something to people so that,if they are in that situation, there's something to look forward to, something to learn and, hopefully, give them a bit of a helping hand back into hospitality. Competition is going to be so fierce.
Maybe this will help them get into an area they didn't think they could work in – going from a big chain of public houses into a cocktail bar, for example, if they've learned a little bit more about the wide range of subjects that are covered by the Wine & Spirits Education Trust.
What will it involve for the mentees?
I didn't want this to be a faceless project. Max [Ostwald] from the Mixing Class and myself are going to meet virtually with the students and get to know them, what their ambitions are and what part of the industry they want to go into. From that we'll appoint the right mentor to help them get to that point.
For the mentor, it'll be about giving advice and pointing them in the right direction. If there are going to be any events in 2021, they can invite them for networking or to help out and get some paid experience.
And education is also a big part of that?
Education is absolutely at the core of what I want to do with Equal Measures. That is key to helping the trade understand the differences between a diverse workforce and one that isn't, and how important it is that our industry reflects society. You can't have an industry that reflects society if only a handful of people have the financial resources and the geographical possibilities to learn. I wanted to do something that resets the equilibrium with regards to people having access.
You can't have an industry that reflects society if only a handful of people have the financial resources and the geographical possibilities to learn
I feel strongly that education and the opportunity to further yourself should be available to everyone, no matter where you were brought up or where you live or what financial restrictions you may have.
What are the first steps?
Reaching out to larger organisations to see if they would like to sponsor or help, and to identify those who need or want a helping hand.
We're trying to cast the net far and as wide because it's about trying to recruit a new wave of people into hospitality or a higher level of hospitality. It's about progression.
Who can apply?
It's open to everyone who is from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities or heritage. We want to keep it as open as possible – anyone who feels they're from a diverse background can apply. This is about helping people who have maybe felt slightly disadvantaged and have not had the opportunities or resources, regardless of the colour of their skin. Equal Measures is about much more than the colour of people's skin.
How can businesses or individuals from the industry support this?
Share it – we would love for as many people as possible to tag someone on social media. Anyone you feel this may be good for, ask them to share it – share this story as much as possible.
What kind of mentors are you looking for?
Anyone who is interested in equality and wants to help people progress in their careers can be a mentor. If you're in a good place in your career you can offer advice. Even if you're in a transition stage, you can advise someone on how to get into a specific part of the industry.
The scheme is open to absolutely anyone who feels they can help someone who has maybe been disadvantaged in the past or feels like they haven't had those opportunities.
Applications will open soon for mentees on the Equal Measures Project Facebook page. Those who are interested in being mentors or sponsoring places are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org
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