SWA charter strives for gender equality

by Owen Bellwood

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has launched its Diversity and Inclusivity Charter to encourage equal opportunities across the industry.

The Diversity and Inclusivity Charter has been developed by the SWA and its members to underscore the industry’s commitment to creating equal opportunities across the Scotch whisky sector. The charter aspires to a 50/50 gender balance in the workforce and the elimination of any gender pay gap. It also commits to actively supporting equal opportunities and treatment in the Scotch whisky sector, as well as the sharing of best practices on diversity and inclusivity. Karen Betts, chief executive of the SWA, said: “The Scotch whisky industry is launching our Diversity and Inclusivity Charter today, doubling down on our commitment to actively welcome people from all backgrounds to work in our companies. "Through the charter, we are underscoring our commitment to attract a wide range of people to work for the industry in Scotland and around the world at all levels and at all stages in their careers. Our goal is to ensure that our workforce is as diverse as our whiskies and the people who enjoy them. “The charter is just the start of the conversation. Many of our member companies are already engaging in a range of activities and programmes to improve diversity and inclusion, from flexible hours, to parental leave, mental wellbeing initiatives, and embracing new recruitment processes. What the charter will now do is foster collaboration between our companies, so everyone can learn from each other’s experiences and ensure we can move forward step by step, positively and collectively, on this important journey.” As well as striving for a 50/50 gender balance, companies that sign the Diversity and Inclusivity Charter also commit to having one member of its senior executive team responsible for diversity and inclusion. Producers must also strive to improve gender diversity at all levels, ensure transparency through the recruitment process, and engage with more diverse and inclusive recruitment practices. Fiona Hyslop, Scotland's cabinet secretary of the economy, fair work and culture, said: "This charter demonstrates that Scotland's iconic whisky industry is providing a fine example for businesses in Scotland and further afield to follow. "The commitment to embrace diversity will open up opportunities in the sector for skilled people from under-represented groups and it will encourage new business opportunities, customers and markets. The charter supports the very best of Scotland's ambitions to be a fair and inclusive society and economy. I welcome it wholeheartedly."