The Somm Journal

Somm Journal Dec2018-Jan2019

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Page 97 of 116

{ } 97 It's hard to say that last sentence, but it's also hard to turn away from a year's worth of mounting reports of sexual harassment and sexual "misconduct" and not feel as though something very basic is wrong here. That word, "misconduct," probably needs to be erased from the larger conversa - tion altogether, as sexual misconduct is not about sex and certainly not about mere misbehavior. It's about using your gender to undermine, intimidate, and put someone in their place. It's about abusing your power to render someone else powerless. Many women have been unjustly forced to navigate around or insulate themselves from situations where a possibility of harassment existed, but for women in the wine industry, there's a big complicating factor : wine itself. When everyone's job involves drinking—when the professional and social contexts are blurred—how do you determine where the lines should be drawn? And even if you were sure when those lines were clearly crossed, wine often enters the equation again to serve as the perfect "cover." For how many calculating men in the industry have used wine as their excuse, if not their license? PHOTOS COURTESY OF RESPECTIVE SUBJECTS Cathy Corison Cathrine Todd Christy Canterbury Gretchen Brakesman Juliana Colangelo Compensation and Representation In doing research for this report, I found myself returning again and again to the relationship between harassment and advancement in the wine business. They are, it now seems to me, inextricably linked. Harassment is a direct way of blocking advancement, but blocking advancement is also a form—an especially insidious and often subconscious form—of harassment. Let's look at the current status of women and their representation in the $62-billion U.S. wine industry. Last April, a startling cover story in the business section of The New York Times revealed that among Fortune 500 companies, there are about the same number of women CEOs as there are CEOs named John (this despite the fact that Johns comprise roughly 3 percent of the population, while women represent 51 percent). Then in October, it was revealed that the already tiny population of Fortune 500 female CEOs had, over the previous few months, shrunk by 25 percent. It now stands at just 5 percent.

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