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WSET commits to diversity, equity and inclusion

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Back in January, WSET hosted a diversity, equity and inclusion discussion panel at its first virtual Global Summit for its course providers. The session brought together a strong and diverse panel to explore how equity and not equality is achieving diversity and inclusivity within multiple industries including education, drinks, and hospitality.

Ian Harris MBE DipWSET, WSET CEO, introduced the session explaining WSET’s commitment to achieving best-in-class education to inspire and empower people worldwide who want to work in the global drinks industry. He emphasised that WSET is dedicated to helping the industry become more diverse and inclusive through the power of education and providing a more equal ‘playing field’ for opportunities.


The session was chaired by Sarah Andrews DipWSET, WSET Business Development Manager for Australia and New Zealand, who began by acknowledging the traditional indigenous land and cultures from where she presented in Melbourne. Cathy Marston DipWSET, Owner of International Wine Education Centre, then spoke about the challenges of striving for equity in South Africa.

Cathy explained that people of non-white backgrounds are underrepresented in wine education in South Africa, giving the cultural, historical and socio-economic reasons why this is the case and outlining the course of action necessary for change. She aims to help previously disadvantaged people into wine education by using positive influencers to change cultural perceptions and promote sponsorship and bursaries. She stressed that by empowering agents of change we can transform the South African wine industry to be viewed through a non-colonial lens.

Next, the world’s first wheelchair sommelier Mirko Pastorelli talked about how his passion for wine led him to overcome adversity and pursue a career in the industry. He’s keen to develop areas such as accessibility for disabled persons and encourages people to speak out about their issues. Mirko hopes to inspire others from around the world: ‘My story must not be seen as a pretext to achieve fame or success, but to help give new hope to those who think that in the face of difficulties you cannot react’.

Nathan Lovett, CEO of the National Indigenous Culinary Institute (NICI), then spoke about the indigenous history, issues and opportunities within the Australian food and beverage industry. He explained that during Australia’s colonial history, the land now used for wine production was once taken from traditional communities. Nathan is driven to help young people aspire to careers via creating positive role models, pathways and programmes.

Mags Janjo DipWSET, Sales Director, MJ Wine Cellars and co-founder at BAME Wine Professionals, then spoke about the transformative powers of education and how it helped him get to where he is now. He explained how he’s helping people from ethnically diverse backgrounds to overcome the financial obstacles to accessing wine education. Mags then demonstrated how BAME Wine Professionals are creating a platform for equity by working with companies like specialist UK wine retailer: Majestic to accommodate students and foster opportunities for study.

The session gives a snapshot of how WSET Global is striving to provide opportunities for persons of all backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities worldwide. In addition, WSET also hosted a talk to explore how the Americas are aiming to achieve diversity, equity and inclusion. To view this session please click here.

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