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Licensing partner, Sarah Taylor, talks challenges & changes

Part of the Morning Advertiser’s celebration of leading women in the licensed trade

Licensing partner, Sarah Taylor, pictured bottom right
Licensing partner, Sarah Taylor, pictured bottom right


Happy International Women’s Day 2022! A day dedicated to celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

To mark the occasion, expert alcohol licensing partner, Sarah Taylor, has spoken to the Morning Advertiser to discuss her experience in the on-trade, including advice she has received and given, challenges she’s faced, what has changed in the sector since she started her career and more.

Below you can find the full interview as well as a link to the full article:

Name: Sarah Taylor

Job title: Partner at Poppleston Allen

Time in the trade: 12 years

Best advice received: I am very fortunate to have a mum who is a strong, independent woman and my biggest supporter. My mum taught me, from a very young age, that the sky was the limit in terms of what I could achieve in my career and life in general, and that the fact that I happened to be a woman should not hinder that in any way.  I have carried that mindset through into adulthood and it has served me very well.  Good advice!

Advice given: Always be yourself.  I think there can be a tendency for women in lots of industries, including hospitality, to feel like they must behave in an aggressive manner or try to change their personality at work in order to progress in their careers.  Have the courage of your convictions, act with integrity and you will build trust with those around you and earn respect along the way.  That is how good leaders are made and great teams are formed, regardless of gender. We need to remember that you can be nice and be great at your job; the two are not mutually exclusive.

Challenges faced: I find that hospitality is by its very nature full of warm and welcoming folks at all levels but there are occasions when I still register looks of surprise from some people when I tell them I am a partner in a law firm.  I have faced my fair share of condescending comments in hearings and meetings over the years, but I don’t take it personally and let my work speak for itself.

Have things changed for women since you started your career in the sector? There has been a shift towards gender equality in the sector, but we still have a long way to go.  Although the covid-19 pandemic has been a horrendous time for our industry, we all had to adapt, innovate, pull together and work more flexibly.

There is a perception that working in hospitality demands long, late hours and weekend work and whilst that is true to an extent, due to the nature of the job, there are other opportunities in hospitality in management and leadership roles which can offer more flexibility.

Some of the most successful female leaders I know in the pub industry began in customer facing roles and have risen through the ranks to become the leaders of today. It is not just on the operations side where women are taking the lead – we are now seeing a real growth in number of female brewers, such as Lidia De Petris, Charlotte Freeston and Valeria De Petris who created Gamma Ray for Beavertown Brewery, St Austell brewing director Georgina Young and Jaega Wise, founder and head brewer at Wildcard Brewery.

What barriers are there to still overcome and how would you suggest this is tackled? I am lucky to work with a team of strong, intelligent women, many of whom are in management positions but there is still a gender gap at senior board level across the wider industry and I think the lack of representation at board level can be seen as a barrier by some women. A number of my pub company clients have initiatives and mentoring programs to encourage the next generation of female leaders and we need to see more of that.

How can the sector #BreakTheBias? We need to have open and honest conversations about gender equality within our teams and across the sector. We need to be as inclusive as possible and identify any barriers which are preventing women reaching their full potential. Let’s see more women being mentored in leadership positions and more women on the speaker’s bill at events. There are some fantastic women in our industry who can bring invaluable skills and insight to the sector. We are doing ourselves a disservice if we do not capitalise on those skills and make those women feel valued and give them a voice.

Link to the full article

Sarah Taylor full bio

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