By Mark Gillespie
November 8, 2020 – When the Kentucky Distillers Association holds its annual meeting tomorrow, look for some eyes to be opened to the industry’s issues with diversity and inclusion.
This summer, the association created a Diversity & Inclusion advisory panel made up of people of color and other underrepresented groups within the Kentucky Bourbon industry in the wake of social justice protests over the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and other people of color at the hands of police officers. That panel will present its findings to the KDA’s board tomorrow, according to president Eric Gregory.
“They’ve broken into subgroups on everything from marketing and entrepreneurship to tourism, you name it,” Gregory said in a telephone interview for this week’s WhiskyCast. “Wow…talk about an incredible experience in just looking at the lens of our distilling industry through different eyes was eye-opening for me,” he said. While Gregory declined to comment on the panel’s specific recommendations in advance of the annual meeting, he noted that “this is historic change for the industry, and it’s needed to happen for some time.”
In addition to the advisory panel, the KDA has also funded nine scholarships so far for students in the distilling programs at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, with three additional scholarships to be endowed at other colleges within the state. The scholarships will be targeted to benefit people of color, women, LGBTQIA, and indigenous students. The scholarship program is being funded through the KDA’s Lifting Spirits Foundation, which was created earlier this year as part of the association’s overall diversity and inclusion initiatives.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.