Sexual discrimination, harassment and abuse of power have plagued the wine industry for too long. It is the responsibility of us all to acknowledge this, to empower people to speak up, and to support our colleagues in sending a clear message that this behavior is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
A New York Times article on sexual harassment involving some members of the Court of Master Sommeliers was published on October 29, 2020. Almost three weeks have gone by and we want to make sure that our words of anger have not been forgotten, and that we now need to turn our words into action.
We applaud the bravery of the women who stepped forward to bring about this change in our industry. And we now present three actions to build on the momentum of change that these women have ignited.
1) Full Circle Wine Solutions and Master the World have a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual discrimination and harassment. Going forward, this applies to our choice of suppliers, vendors, and clients with whom we choose to work with. It also applies to our events, both onsite and online. Should you feel in your interactions with us that there are issues on this front, please do not hesitate to reach to me, Evan or any of our staff. Neither Evan nor I are significant instagrammers so you won’t find big statements from us on social media. That said, both this statement and a statement from Evan about the recent scandal can be found on both our company websites.
2) Keeping wine education accessible. We know that many have lost restaurant jobs or have diminished incomes due to the pandemic. We want to highlight our scholarship program at MTWwines.com where sommeliers and retailers can apply to receive kits even after our free 2020 Full Circle Beverage Conference is over. We will build more bridges with corporate suppliers to enhance our scholarship program so that we can make more kits available to help sommeliers and others hone their palates regardless of whether they are pursuing certification or not. We are also launching an educator referral program where qualified educators can earn referral dollars for every kit sold. So, if you are a sommelier who wants to host virtual tastings with wines shipped to your clients, we may be able to help you keep teaching with wine.
3) Finally, we will be hosting a regular Full Circle Open Forum to create a safe and inspiring place for those who want to meet positive role models in our industry. We will feature female leaders in our industry who can share their experiences on all kinds of professional development and personal growth topics. The first one will be in December and we will send out invitations soon. Even though these will feature female leaders, we encourage everyone to attend. This is one way we wish to support our colleagues in this industry and to lead by example, by providing an inclusive environment that embraces diversity and equality.
If you are interested in enhancing our programs by sponsoring our initiatives or offering suggestions and potential topics for our Full Circle Open Forum, please email: somm@MTWwines.com