How quickly a year has flow past, attending my second ever London Wine Fair yesterday but as a Visitor rather than an Exhibitor. The TVision team went along to do some research looking at the new Innovation Zone (which looked really busy), attend some industry briefings and generally take a look at which companies were there this year.

I arrived early to make sure I got a seat at the briefing I had set my sights on: “Diversifying Thought Leadership in the Wine Industry”. With a short intro from the new London Wine Fair (LWF) event Director – the first female LWF Director ever – it was down to business. With the panel session hosted by Regine Lee from Liberty Wines (who are one of our Bevica Clients) it also included three very knowledgeable panellists. From left to right they were: Anne Jones a category Manager at Waitrose for Wine, Beer & Spirits; Joe Fattorini  a well-known Wine expert, presenter and writer; Alex Ririe DipWSET  from Coley Porter Bell.

Given that 25% of the panel was male, the audience attendance didn’t reflect this. There was a handful of men in the audience, but I’d say it was 90-95% female. Personally, I think that diversifying thought leadership in any industry is the responsibility of both men and women – so it was disappointing, but not surprising, to see so few men in the room. Joe Fattorini covered it in a piece about supporting women in the wine trade.

There were many stats highlighted throughout the hour long session, but both Anne and Alex both warned against taking them at face value. You really can make stats tell any story, just choose the ones that suit your purpose and ignore the ones that don’t. That’s why you truly need unbiased sets of qualitative and quantitative data to report on when you are doing research, but I digress – it’s the scientist in me….

Some stats that I did find interesting were that of all wine purchased 55% of it is actually done so by women. And this is despite 27% of men saying they have excellent wine knowledge compared with just 16% of women saying the same. It was interesting that it was Joe that pointed out that men often overstate their knowledge. Apparently women are far more likely to use alcohol in a “I deserve this” kind of self-treatment social environment, whereas men would drink for bragging rights knowing provenance and finer details about the vintage, etc. A question regarding recruitment and talent management also came up with the anecdotal story of using the word “gravitas” in a job description. The perception of the agency was that including that particular word would ensure 95% of women would be put off applying. Well I’m proud to say I’d be part of the 5% that would apply. It definitely wouldn’t put me off in the slightest.

Another great anecdote mentioned was around a Lynx deodorant product line failure. The only line they found that wasn’t successful was due to it having a twist lid (apparently using a thumb and finger is too girly) whereas changing it to a male power grip to remove the lid made exactly the same product instantly better. This was analogous to wine bottles with corks vs those with twist top lids, but not something that had ever occurred to me. I’ve never chosen a bottle on that basis, but then I guess I’m not your average wine drinker – I’m more of the clichéd Prosecco or fizz type social drinker. But as Joe asked – what’s next after Prosecco?

Whilst the theme of this panel was a conversation around the influence and inclusion of women in the wine industry as thought leaders, I think it can equally apply to the tech industry. Not that TVision is a typical tech company, with a 60/40 female/male split in the office we don’t have an issue regarding female inclusion in the workforce. And with a 70/30 female/male split on the management board – I think it’s safe to say that we have positive female role models here in the office. There was also a mention of mentoring and coaching women in senior leadership positions, and the gender pay gap which has come to the fore with the recent legislative reporting requirement for companies of 250+ employees. I admit I had a good look at some of my previous employers and wasn’t at all surprised by the results.

All in all, it was a great start to my day at the London Wine Fair, which was followed by a walk around the event floor meeting clients and talking to prospects. We’ll be going back next year for sure.