Bacardi’s Women in Leadership Program: As in many parts of the world, the alcohol beverage industry in India has traditionally been male-dominated. For years, men have outnumbered women in various roles within this sector. The narrative, however, is changing with organizations like Bacardi making conscious and concerted efforts to encourage more women to bring their skill and expertise to the industry and empower them as leaders within the organization. Through initiatives such as their Women in Leadership (WIL) program, Bacardi is challenging stereotypes and welcoming a new era of thinking within the industry.
WIL was launched in 2018 as a way to provide a platform for women at Bacardi to recognize and celebrate their growth opportunities and help them navigate their professional journey. The program aims to create awareness for a gender-diverse workforce where everyone has a say and build an inclusive culture. “For the good health of any organization, there is a need for balance and having different viewpoints. The same applies to us,” says Anmol Gill, Head of Customer Marketing, who was among the first few women employees recruited by Bacardi in India. The women behind the WIL program have been working relentlessly to build programs that foster growth and recognition, and its impact has given them a reason to cheer.
Laying the foundation
The core team of the WIL committee, which includes Anmol Gill, Head of Customer Marketing; Ayaesha Gooptu, Head of Innovations, AMEA; Reshma Kajal Bara, HR Business Partner – Commercial; and Radhika Maheshwari, Chief Financial Officer, took it upon themselves to build an ecosystem where women could thrive and succeed.
“We wanted to change the negative thinking around women working in the alcohol industry, both within the company and across the industry. To support and encourage Primas (Spanish for cousins, and how Bacardi employees refer to each other), we created a host of women-friendly programs and initiatives,” says Ayaesha. Through WIL, they launched formal mentoring and networking programs and introduced skill-building initiatives and individual development plans for Primas across the organization.
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To increase the gender diversity ratio, there has also been a dedicated commitment to evaluating both male and female candidates for roles across functions – including finance and sales. In order to create a safe and supportive work environment, Bacardi also offers child-care facilities and secure transportation options for Primas. Additionally, the company has taken steps to sensitize male employees and work on breaking the unconscious biases present within the industry.
A toast to success
Since its inception, the WIL program has helped Primas across roles take bolder strides in their careers and realise their own potential. According to Ayaesha, this program has given primas in the organization, the support of exceptional mentors in guiding their career path. It has also given them opportunities to participate in leadership discussions. Reshma says, “I’m involved in hiring diversity candidates for the commercial function which can be a challenge due to limited talent. One has to look at different approaches and at the same time deal with prevalent stereotypes. The mentorship program has helped me to introspect and look at things differently while driving and executing some of the initiatives.”
The core team members are delighted to see how the program has inspired new Primas to break stereotypes by pursuing a career in the alcohol industry. “Today, we have more women in Bacardi than ever before and in verticals where women representation has typically been low such as supply chain, trade advocacy, and general sales,” says Anmol.
Bacardi’s WIL program is a significant step towards increasing diversity and shaping more decision-makers in the alco-bev industry. Radhika believes that the industry will benefit immensely with more women participating in it and is upbeat about the progress. Acknowledging that change rarely comes overnight, Radhika says, “A change in perception will take some time. It is going to be a gradual shift in how people perceive this sector.” Programs like Women in Leadership will take the industry one step closer to shedding age-old ideas and showcasing the true potential of a diverse and inclusive workforce.
The article has been published in collaboration with Bacardi’s ‘Women in Leadership’ program to show how women leaders are creating a new narrative in the alco-bev industry.