The spirits industry has long been an old boys' club, with men in suits discussing prices and potential clients as they sip drinks and smoke cigars.

And even as times change and new entrepreneurs create luxury liquor brands it's usually men we envision at the helm of breweries and distilleries. But more women and millennials are stepping up and challenging traditions with technology and digital education.

The women leading innovation in this traditional industry were not satisfied with the status quo. They saw opportunities to make alcohol more sustainable, healthier, and improve alcohol education.

Their efforts are revolutionizing an entire industry; they're not just opening doors for more women to step forward and make an impact, but their platforms are also empowering consumers to take a more proactive role in understanding how their favorite beverages affect their communities and health. 

If you're interested in driving change in your industry, take a page of these women's books by focusing on three major change priorities:

1. Sustainability

 If alcohol already plays such a significant role in our individual lives, shouldn't it play a positive role in shaping local communities as well? Monica Pearce, founder of the Tenth Ward Distilling Company, which specializes in craft whiskey and brandy, realized that there wasn't much of an impetus to produce spirits that were sustainable and supported local economies.

Now, her sustainable distillation solution reduces the carbon footprint of the whiskey and brandy produced in her distillery. Had Pearce simply sought to open a distillery in her hometown, it may have been a success. But by committing herself to finding a more sustainable solution, her company isn't just serving up drinks, it's making a positive impact. 

Any hopeful entrepreneur looking to start a meaningful organization has to pay attention to sustainability. We've moved beyond the point where sustainability is seen as a novelty--now it's a necessity. Furthermore, introducing operations that take pollution and carbon footprint into consideration may also help you attract talent among younger generations who are eager to rectify the damages industries of the past have created. 

2. Health

Some people swear off alcohol altogether because dealing with the physical and mental pain of hangovers just isn't worth it. 'Pixie' Paula Dezzutti Hewlette is dedicated to innovation and serves as a director on the board of Terressentia Corporation, which uses a patented cutting edge technology  to remove methanol from alcohol, eliminating the toxins which cause some drinkers to feel ill the morning after imbibing. 

Some swear this means fewer hangovers because of the way our body naturally processes methanol--by eliminating the toxins formaldehyde and formic acid--both of which make you feel ill the day after. Additionally, Hewlette is the founder and CEO of Local Choice Spirits, which she launched to showcase the aforementioned process and be an advocate for the distribution of high tech spirits to the consumer in a way that gives real meaning to "let's drink responsibly!"

Hewlette saw the need for organizations to pay closer attention to consumer health and behind the scenes of alcohol manufacturing and distribution. People are no longer willing to sit back and consume products without fully understanding their health implications and social impact.

Entrepreneurs across every industry, from food and spirits to beauty and technology, have a responsibility to pioneer products that serve the best interests of the people who use them. Taking the time to ask the hard questions to consumers directly about the ways in which your product is falling short of serving their health and lifestyle wants and needs can lead to effective change for a world where one spirit's methodology can be truly inspirational!

3. Education

Anyone who's going to imbibe should take the time to educate themselves on liquor--how it's made, how to use it, and its possible side effects. 

In 2006, Natalie Bovis launched the website The Liquid Muse, which offers classes and bar training, cocktail catering, and bartender retreats. By providing numerous blog posts and videos about her passion, Bovis has become one of the most sought-after voices in the industry.

For all of the ways that alcohol contributes to community and celebration, it can also be destructive. The more that people understand about the product and its potential effects, the safer they'll be able to imbibe. 

Today's consumers want information. Every company across every industry can do a better job of creating educational content that not only informs consumers of product origins, but also better understand how products can support and boost their lifestyles. 

If educational content, whether in the form of blogs, newsletters, or social media posts, is not already a part of your marketing mix, it's time to rethink your strategy. Business leaders have two distinct choices: honestly educate audiences or risk consumer abandonment in the coming years. 

To be an impactful business leader in today's landscape, your goals have to transcend your own personal interests and perspectives. Putting your consumers first through sustainable and educational initiatives, and through the development of safer products, is the only way to forge lasting consumer loyalty. 

Published on: Nov 20, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.