It was an important occasion for the Pink Boots Australia chapter last week as Tiffany Waldon was voted in as president, taking over the role from Alli MacDonald who announced she was stepping down in July.
Tiffany’s appointment was announced at the AGM last Thursday (24th September) along with that of Laura Hose, who has become vice president moving over from her role as secretary. Other appointments include Melinda Christophersen who has moved from membership coordinator to secretary, and Jacqui Sacco, now in the new role of events and communications coordinator.
Waldron, currently the consumer and customer engagement manager at craft accelerator Founders First, is a founding member of the organisation, which focuses on supporting women in the beer industry through education and networking.
“It’s pretty exciting! I’ve been part of the board since its inception and after a chat with Alli, I realised I’m ready,” Waldron told Brews News.
“Alli got Pink Boots to a place where it’s organised and structured, and that’s so important as we’ve gone from a membership at the beginning of fewer than 100 women and now we’re looking at 450 members.
“To me, that’s a massive increase of women who have been given an easier way to reach out to other women through Pink Boots,” she said.
While it’s very early days for Waldron’s presidency, there are a few main focuses for Pink Boots under her stewardship.
“What I’m seeing now, after having gone on my own journey and looked into leadership, is that if you look across the brewing industry there are so few women in leadership positions.
“We want to help in getting more women ready to take that next step, being comfortable in taking it and knowing when it’s appropriate to step up.
“People often reach out to Pink Boots and say they would love to have a woman on the panel at this event or present at that event, and what we were finding was that people were uncomfortable stepping up without being asked, but men seem more comfortable having a voice.”
She said that this was a major issue she wanted Pink Boots to focus on, and the organisation has started by putting on sessions on public speaking, as well as understanding your own story and how to share it.
This is in addition to scholarships the organisation supports, with help from donations from supporters like Cryer Malt, and their latest education training sessions which will soon be open to the wider industry but remain free for members with a small fee for non-members.
Another block to women entering and progressing is their own lack of confidence in their importance to the industry, she said.
“This is well beyond just our industry but we get a lot of ‘I’m just…’ – whether that’s the wife of the brewer, or ‘I just do the finances’; ‘I just do marketing’.”
“Yes, brewing is a major part of the beer business, but it’s not just about brewers, even if you’re not a brewer you can be 100 per cent apart of the beer industry.
“You always hear that you can’t be what you can’t see, so it’s important other women see women going in and stepping up in the brewing industry so they see it as a viable career path.”
She said that Pink Boots can also aid by providing networking opportunities and allowing women to support others in the industry, and they were discussing the viability of mentoring programmes to address this.
In addition, as the organisation continues to grow, it was recently announced this year that women in other fermented beverage industries can join, opening up the potential membership base to winemakers, distillers and others.
“We want to actively go out and invite them to join. They have so much to add, and so many skills are cross-functional and translate across industries.
“Obviously anyone who’s female or female-identifying, and is interested but unsure about joining, we’re here and open to discussion, just get in touch with us on Facebook or via email at [email protected].”
Hear more from former Pink Boots President Alli MacDonald on the Beer is a Conversation podcast.