How is the drinks industry showing LGBTQA+ support this Mardi Gras?

February 27, 2024
By Cody Profaca

Sydney’s Mardi Gras, regarded internationally as one of the biggest and most important LGBTQI marches and festivals in the world, has returned to Sydney in 2024 for its 46th edition. The festival, which began on 16 February, will culminate in the globally renowned Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade this Saturday 2 March.

Drinks Trade felt it would be pertinent to recognise the brands and suppliers actively supporting the Sydney event, along with those supporting other pride events such as the recent Midsumma pride march in Melbourne, as being the companies actively striving to make our drinks industry a more accommodating and inclusive space. 

Both Asahi Beverages and Coles Group took part in the Midsumma March on 4 February. 

“It was wonderful to see a big group of Asahi Beverages colleagues and their families celebrating the LGBTQ+ community at Midsumma, and having a great day enjoying the festivities in the Melbourne sun,” said Roz Lever, Group Chief People & Corporate Affairs Officer at Asahi Beverages. 

“We’re proud to show support for our LGBTQ+ colleagues so that they can be their whole, authentic selves at work every day.”

In addition to partaking in the march, Asahi Beverages also operates an internal resource group that seeks to establish a safe sense of community in its workspace. 

“We have a Pride@Asahi Employee Resource Group which is focused on creating a sense of connection and community with our LGBTQ+ colleagues and allies at Asahi,” she said.

Pride@Asahi also plans on organising various events during Pride Month this June. 

“Our Pride@Asahi team has also organised a series of events to mark Pride Month in June. This includes a panel discussion with LGBTQ+ speakers sharing their experiences.”

Coles Group was also in attendance at this year’s Midsumma Festival Pride March. 

“This year’s Midsumma Pride March in Melbourne was a fantastic event and I’d like to thank everyone who joined us at the march,” said Mia Lloyd, Coles Group Pride General Manager Sponsor.

“It was wonderful to see so many of our team members come together to celebrate our LGBTQI+ community. Given the hot conditions, it was impressive to see the turnout, not only from everyone taking part in the march, but all the spectators and well-wishers lining the route.”

Coles is also an official partner of Mardi Gras for 2024. 

“80 Coles Group team members from across all of our operations – Distribution Centres, Supermarkets and Liquor – and all regions of Australia, will come together in Sydney to experience this special occasion and showcase our commitment to LGBTQI+ inclusion,” said Lloyd.

“As part of our Mardi Gras 2024 campaign, Coles is donating 10 cents to Pride Cup for every purchase of our Rainbow Love Heart Cookies. Since 2023, Coles has raised over $23,000 for Pride Cup through our in-store Pride related products.”

“At Coles Group everyone is welcome at our table. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion strengthens our values and builds an environment where everyone feels accepted to be their authentic selves. Pride Month aligns with our value of Care for each other, and one of our key focuses this year will be building allyship. Allyship is key to driving change within in the community and creates a more inclusive culture that benefits everyone.”

Various brands are also showing their support for this year’s Mardi Gras, including official gin sponsor Archie Rose. The partnership will see it work closely with partners, venues, and retailers to offer promotions, activations, and special deals on its Signature and Fundamental Spirits Gins. It is also helping to create tailored cocktail menus for on-premise venues looking to engage in LGBTQA+ celebrations.

“Mardi Gras has had quite a journey over the last few years. What started with the cry ‘out of the bars and into the streets’ in 1978, was then warped during the pandemic to one of ‘off the streets and into the SCG’,” said Harriet Leigh, Archie Rose’s Head of Hospitality. 

“We’re delighted to see it back where its subversive roots began – on Oxford Street. And while WorldPride is now a joyous, hazy memory, Mardi Gras is looking to the future.” 

Other noteworthy brands showing support for the LGBTQA+ community this weekend include Lion’s Little Creatures, Diageo’s Johnnie Walker, Pernod Ricard’s Absolut, and Campari.

The Drinks Association’s Pride in Drinks team has also acted as a trailblazing force in promoting LGBTQA+ equality in Australia’s drinks industry, hosting initiatives such as its Pride – Past, Present and Future virtual event last Wednesday 21 February. The event was moderated by Pride in Drinks Co-Lead Jamila Diamonon (Campari) and Pride in Drinks Event Lead Ruben Da Silva (CCEP) and included a panel discussion with three industry leaders: Sandra Gibbs from Asahi Beverages, Amanda Lamp from Diageo, and Sarah Abbott from Lion.

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