Be the Change Initiative inspires social change in the wine industry through diversity and inclusion efforts

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Industry leaders Lia Jones, Rania Zayyat, Cara Bertone and Philana Bouvier have created a powerful platform to drive social change in the wine industry.

As founders of Be the Change Initiative, they seek to create a place where diverse candidates can feel welcome, as well as feel seen and heard in the job market. The founders also find it imperative to give employers the opportunity to implement diversity and inclusion initiatives and practices within their companies.

Be the Change focuses on changing the status quo, through job fairs and long-term policy legislation, but it's also personal for the team.

"This is important for me, because I am Black, I am queer, I'm female, I'm Belizean- American. I am the diverse candidate. I'm in a position that I can help people, and I want to help people," says Lia.

Rania adds, "I have felt marginalized for many years. Early in my wine career, I was surrounded by a lot of powerful men. And I always felt like I had to shift my way of doing things to be included, and to be able to move up in my career. And I don't want that to be the case for people that are entering the industry."

"Everyone should have voice, everyone should have transparency, everyone should be able to have conversations with their leadership team. We should not be in an industry or a world where we can't have the aspiration to want to be at an executive role, or an owner of a company, or a winemaker," says Cara.

Be the Change launched its debut Virtual Job Fair in December with 400 attendees. The four-hour event provided multiple job opportunities across the wine industry, giving companies a chance to interview a wide range of candidates in a short amount of time.

Rick Tigner, CEO of Jackson Family Wines, was excited for the opportunity. "Our recruiting team interviewed over 100 applicants who had interest in the wine space, and that would have taken us months to interview 100 applicants, and we can talk about diversity, or we can actually make change and be the change has given us that platform," says Tigner.

The initiative is well on its way to inspiring change and making a difference. "It's to acknowledge the diverse voices that are out there and to acknowledge everybody, it's to make sure that we address every ethnic background, ageism, disabilities, veterans. It's saying that we hear you and we want to help you get a job," states Philana.

To learn more about Be the Change, visit here.
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.