The beer world got an important dose of accountability over the last two weeks. I’d imagine it’s nearly impossible not to have heard or felt the domino effect, but here’s a summary: Over the last two weeks, a flood of discrimination and harassment conversations have shone a long overdue spotlight on the misogynistic and predatory business and customer environment of the beer industry. It started with a production manager from Massachusetts-based Notch Brewing, Brienne Allan, who after a pair of sexist interactions at the brewery, asked Instagram followers “What sexist comments have you experienced?” Hundreds of accounts poured in, ranging from women-don’t-belong-in-the-brewhouse stories to experiences of rape and violence. You should read them here. To get the full backstory, read Beth Demmon’s story “Sweeping Accusations of Sexism, Assault Rock the Craft Beer Industry” featured on VinePair.
As the accusations and admissions poured out, beer professionals from CEOs to sales directors have been fired or have resigned. Breweries at the center of this MeToo movement include the likes of Modern Times Beer, Melvin Brewing, Connecticut Valley Brewing, Tired Hands Brewing, Pollyanna Brewing and Original Pattern Brewing. It’s even moved beyond brewing to include bars and restaurants like California’s Beer Baron Bar and Kitchen.
In this wake, there has been an enormous public response from craft breweries — some good (see below) and some bad. Many breweries announced their support for victimized women and their disgust at an environment they may have helped create. Chris Lohring, owner of Notch Brewing, where Allan works, offered a response, and in it he said this:
As an industry, rather than posting meaningless inspirational messages, let’s share direct action on how we can collectively improve our policies and culture. This is ours, and we will not stop here.
That is a good idea. Not many, but some craft breweries and beer organizations did a step better and listed what actions they were taking to combat sexual harassment, violence and bigotry in the workplace and in the taproom. Many of these responses are quite long, and for this article I’ve only selected certain portions that stand out as actionable steps craft breweries can take to create a safer and more inclusive work environment.
Portland, Maine’s Allagash Brewing Co.
- We don’t tolerate patterns of disrespect and harassment no matter who you are and where you are working. Our Sales Team is empowered to walk away from any account, wholesaler partner, or other party that is engaging in a way that feels disrespectful. Our Tasting Room staff is empowered to ask customers to modify behavior (or leave the premises if they cannot engage respectfully.) We’ll be writing these sentiments down with more clarity in a policy format.
- We’ll offer a refresher class (online) on Bystander Intervention, this one targeted towards gender issues, with our friends at Prevention Action Change. If you haven’t participated in one of these, or if you’d like a refresher, we’d love to have you. The curriculum offers an opportunity to do role plays based on scenarios our staff submits in advance- giving you a chance to go back and have a do-over when you haven’t known what to do or say.
- We have a company account with Crafted For All, and Dr. J Nikol Jackson-Beckham, the BA’s Equity & Inclusion Partner, offers periodic seminars and workshops on timely topics like this. Reach out to a member of the HR team if you’d like to receive invites to these events.
- We’ll offer Empowerment Self-Defense classes to staff through Prevention Action Change (the entire Sales Team participated in an 8 hour training in 2019, and we’ll be offering a version of this to all employees going forward.)
- We’ll continue to support organizations that elevate the causes and voices of women and girls, like the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute, The Telling Room, In Her Presence, Chance to Advance, and Wohelo Camps.
Athens, Ohio’s Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery
- This past year, we’ve created a Diversity & Inclusion Committee at the suggestion of our employees which includes 15 members of the Jackie O’s family. This committee created ten priorities, attended “Challenging Implicit Bias & Committing to Allyship” training, and updated the Jackie O’s’ Core Values.
- Six months ago, our Human Resources Director separated our Nondiscrimination /Anti-harassment Policy from our Employee Handbook in order to give it undivided attention during new hire orientations.
- This week, we are creating an anonymous employee survey to gauge feelings on the current culture of Jackie O’s and ask for suggestions for improvements. We’ll use those results to ensure our company culture aligns with our core values and plan to send out this survey semiannually.
- In addition to reminding employees of our complaint procedure protocol, we’re using an anonymous platform so our employees can report sexual harassment, discrimination, microaggressions, and toxicity in the workplace.
- While many of our employees have completed sexual harassment and bystander intervention training over the past three years, we joined WeVow to provide sexual harassment training, which will be mandatory for all employees to participate in within the next two months. Employees will not be permitted to travel without taking the course.
- Over the next several months we will examine the relationship between toxicity in the workplace and mental health/substance abuse so we can provide appropriate resources to our employees through an Employee Assistance Program.
- Lastly, we have donated to Brienne’s GoFundMe, which was set up to help her with any legal fees she incurs by sharing thousands of stories of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse across the craft beer industry. If you are able, we encourage you to donate as well at https://www.gofundme.com/f/Briennelegalfees
- Join WeVow.
- Implement an anonymous employee reporting tool such as Red Flag Reporting or Lighthouse Services.
- Review this CBC seminar from 2019: Ignorance Is NOT Bliss: Workplace Investigations Basics.
- Share your HR resources with us so we can compile and share with the community at large.
- If you are an HR professional with subject matter expertise on sexual harassment and assault and would like to speak at CBC or on a webinar, complete this form.
- Volunteer to use your knowledge and experience on a BA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) subcommittee by joining the waiting list here.
- Send your additional ideas to [email protected].
San Diego Brewers Guild
- The SDBG Board of Directors are in the process of forming a specialized task force to create a formal Code of Conduct for our association and all its members.
- SDBG is hosting sexual harassment training for our members on June 10th which includes information on reporting incidents, enabling viewers to recognize bad behavior and report it without fear of retaliation. SDBG members will receive a separate email with details and how to register.
- SDBG is exploring opportunities with community leaders, specializing in Labor and Employment Law, to create annual training programs for members that comply with mandates as well as develop new tools, guides and resources. If you are interested in hosting a future workshop on one of these important topics, please contact [email protected].
If anyone is the victim of sexual assault, please reach out:
- Center for Community Solutions San Diego: CCS operates the only rape crisis center in the city of San Diego along with a countywide 24-hour bilingual crisis helpline. The nonprofit agency also provides emergency domestic violence shelters, hospital and court accompaniment, as well as legal and counseling services for those affected by domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center: NSVRC provides research & tools to advocates working on the frontlines to end sexual harassment, assault, and abuse with the understanding that ending sexual violence also means ending racism, sexism, and all forms of oppression.
- RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network): RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1.800.656.HOPE, online.rainn.org y rainn.org/es) in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.
Update on the SDBG Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee
Championed by current SDBG President and Co-Founder, CEO of Second Chance Beer Co. Virginia Morrison, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee was formed in January 2020, consisting of 15 members – brewery employees and community members. Chaired by Notable Industry Journalist Beth Demmon and Carmen Favela of Border X Brewing & Mujeres Brew House, the mission of the DEI Committee is to:
- Be a resource for SDBG members looking to implement diverse, inclusive, and equitable practices into their businesses
- Spearhead outreach in communities currently underrepresented in craft beer
- Educate craft beer consumers on how to be agents of change in the community
Here is a look at the recent Hiring and Rehiring Onboarding Guide released to SDBG members on April 8, 2021.
Athens, Ga.’s Creature Comforts Brewing Co.
- Creating resources that make it easier for employees to give feedback and report incidents anonymously.
- Ensuring a safe workplace and that people can bring forward concerns without fear of retaliation, retribution, or judgment.
- Practicing empathetic listening to become better allies.
- Rebuilding any lost trust with employees or others.
- Working only with other breweries who are formally committed to inclusion, equity, and safety for all.
- We also encourage all employees to take advantage of our existing Employee Assistance Program or contact The Cottage assault crisis center hotline (1-877-363-1912) if you need additional support.
Austin, Texas’ Jester King Brewery
- A first action is to contribute 100% of profits from our most recent Tired Hands Brewing Co. collaboration to nonprofits that support the marginalized groups affected by these systemic issues within the craft beer and service industries, in solidarity with the existing staff at Tired Hands Brewing Company. We are donating these funds to the following organizations:
- The Pink Boots Society, an international nonprofit that provides scholarships for female professionals in the fermented/alcoholic beverage industry to advance their careers through education (https://www.pinkbootssociety.org/).
- DAWA Heals is a local nonprofit in Austin, providing direct financial assistance for musicians, artists, therapists, members of the service industry, and social workers of color (https://www.dawaheals.org/).
Ohio Craft Brewers Association
- Last year, we instituted a code of conduct approved by our membership that applies to both the owners and employees of breweries. The code requires members to provide an environment free of discrimination and from abusive, offensive or harassing behavior. OCBA members are expected to follow the code of conduct not only in their dealings with the organization, but also in the day-to-day operation of their businesses.
- The OCBA takes reports of impropriety seriously and, in 2019, instituted a formalized process to investigate claims submitted to the organization . This process is designed to be thorough and fair, with input from all parties given consideration. An OCBA member who violates our code can be suspended or expelled from the organization.
- Additionally, the OCBA has an Equity and Inclusion Committee which guides us in providing free educational resources to our members to help them build positive cultures in their businesses.
Philly Beer Week and Philly Loves Beer
- To achieve these goals, Philly Loves Beer (PLB) will develop a Code Of Conduct that the Board will adopt and incorporate into its bylaws. While PLB cannot and should not dictate the HR policies of breweries, bars, or any other member businesses, we must ensure that Philly Beer Week events are safe. This year not only means complying with existing COVID mitigation measures but also instituting anti-harassment policies with clear reporting mechanisms.
- This Code Of Conduct will be distributed in advance of Philly Beer Week to all participating venues, bars, breweries, etc. All breweries, bars, and restaurants are strongly encouraged to be trained or have a staff member fully trained in “Safe Bar” and obtain a Safe Bar Certification.
- We encourage brewery, bar owners, and operators to form an alliance and disband the culture of silence. Philly Loves Beer will provide resources and partner with organizations to provide safe spaces of disclosure and guidelines and good practices for the industry.
- Apologies are important, but the best apology is changed behavior.
RestaurantEthics.com, HotelEthics.com and BarEthics.com
These folks dropped us a line and definitely should be included. RestaurantEthics.com, HotelEthics.com and BarEthics.com allow anonymous reporting of misconduct issues in those industries. These hotline providers have extensive operations experience in the hospitality, food and beverage industries. They know the people and the issues and the risks. They are a great resource.
If your brewery or beer business has actions it is taking, please send them to [email protected] and I will include them in this post.