What’s Next for the Craft Beer Industry?

4 Min Read
By MJ Mowrer
June 21, 2021

How breweries can learn from sexual harassment, racism, and the #MeToo movement that is happening in craft beer right now.

If you’re unfamiliar with what’s happening in the craft beer industry right now, imagine a revolution akin to that of the #MeToo movement of 2017. In fact, many news outlets are currently referring to the current state of affairs as a  #MeToo style reckoning of the Craft Beer Industry. 

After a frustrating day at work, Brienne Allen, a production manager at Notch Brewing in Salem, Massachusetts, took to Instagram and asked followers if they had noticed similarly unbearable sexist attitudes in the brewing subculture. Messages began pouring in and she began sharing them while keeping the authors anonymous. Thousands of messages have been published since, with more continuing to roll in. Leaders in the industry have been named and the story is being picked up by the likes of The Boston Globe, Bon Appétit, and Eater. 

The Craft Beer Industry Needs to Change

While the statements started as generalized sexism being experienced at the hands of customers and industry peers, it didn’t take long for Brienne to start seeing specific breweries, industry figureheads, and individual brewers being named in several allegations. 

Modern Times Beer founder and CEO Jacob McKean has stepped down amid allegations and has stated that they have “parted ways” with an employee who was named in the reports. 

Jean Broillet IV the founder of Tired Hands Brewing Company has “stepped down from all daily operations” after having been named directly in some of the Instagram posts. 

Søren Wagner, founder of Copenhagen’s Dry & Bitter Brewing Company (and head brewer) has also resigned according to Inside Hook. 

Many additional breweries have issued similar statements outlining their next steps and acknowledging that there is a systemic problem that needs to be addressed. 

What should breweries do to improve? 

Breweries across the country are scrambling to figure out what’s next as the #MeToo and #TimesUp initiatives come crashing down on the craft beer industry. So what happens now? For those in the industry that want to be as proactive as possible and for those who want to drive actionable change in their own company culture, here are three next steps.

1. Implement Anonymous Reporting 

Breweries, and many other employers, can greatly benefit from implementing a real feedback system for their employees. Consider implementing a tool like AllVoices where you can capture feedback, reports, and questions anonymously.

To learn more about AllVoices and how it works, go to our FAQ here.  If your company already has an open culture, take a look at our recent article describing why an open door policy may not be sufficient enough to encourage the kind of feedback you truly need, to improve.

For successful implementation of a tool like AllVoices, employers can do a few key things:

  • Regularly remind employees that they have an anonymous reporting tool at their disposal. Breweries can offer reminders in the form of signs in employee areas, regular emails, and other physical reminders.
  • Assign more than one administrator to the platform and carefully track all reports to ensure they get resolved. 
  • Select a service that doesn’t white label because employees are not likely to trust an internally built tool. 

2. Create Policies that Mandate the Culture 

Many breweries have already made statements expressing their dismay with the current brewery culture, calling for further investigations, and committing to being better. However, a statement is not enough. As an employer, the next plan of action should be to take those commitments and turn them into actionable policies. Mandate a culture of acceptance and understanding by defining what zero tolerance looks like. 

To maintain a system of respect and accountability, a company must be clear on its core values and communicate this to every employee. Management should be well aware of company goals and must have clear expectations for each member of the staff. The days of getting away with sexism and racism just because someone is good at brewing beer are over. The EEOC has some great harassment policy tips here. 

3. Improve Diversity  

When speaking to Bon Apétit, Chanell Williams, craft beer blogger, said, “These companies need to revamp their HR, and get women and people of color in leadership and management. I want to see myself reflected in my management.” 

Everyone on the leadership team of every brewery should prioritize diversity and inclusion now. Diversity isn’t just good for this moment in time, it’s been proven to also bring a host of other benefits like innovative thinking and advanced company culture. 

When looking at the diversity of a company or brewery, it’s important to extend beyond the levels of hourly employees. Companies can take this opportunity to ensure their HR teams, board rooms, executive teams, brewing teams, and more, have diverse backgrounds, perspectives, skin colors, sexualities, and genders. 

The Craft Beer Industry Has a Real Chance to Improve

Starting a diversity and inclusion journey is scary. Being in the midst of a #MeToo movement is scary. Wondering if you are doing enough for your team is scary. But, the craft beer industry has a real chance here. The opportunity is ripe to be an example for other industries with prominent misogyny, assault, racism, and more. Taking a stance, setting a clear policy, listening for feedback, acting on that feedback, and actively seeking diversity are all great ways to help pull everyone through this. 

If you want to learn more about how AllVoices can help, request a demo here

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