Updated: Jul 24, 2020
By Keith Adams
On December 2, 2019
It’s unfortunate that it takes public relations disasters like the recent Founders Brewing litigation and other instances of sexual harassment and sexism to open up a greater dialogue around diversity in craft beer. Over the past several months, we’re finally seeing more breweries address the industry’s lack of diversity head-on. Some are also realizing that embracing diversity in their brewhouses and taprooms has benefits beyond PR. The Brewer’s Association points out that cultivating diversity isn’t just a feel-good effort: “Research studies increasingly show that diversity and inclusion (or D&I) can help increase a business’ bottom line, drive innovation, attract more talent, attract more customers and create more opportunities for growth.”
I reached out to some people in the craft beer world to get their take on how diversity can be addressed, asking them: What are some tangible steps that can be taken to better promote a greater diversity of race, gender, sexual identity, and religion in the beer industry?
"Authentic inclusion as opposed to cultural appropriation"
Hop Topic wants to address the lack of diversity in the craft beer community with authentic inclusion as opposed to cultural appropriation.
What is cultural appropriation? In a nutshell, cultural appropriation is when somebody of a dominant culture adopts elements of another culture that’s not their own. This is not to be confused with cultural exchange, which is a mutual exchange of cultural elements and lacks the dominant power dynamic. Cultural appropriation doesn’t require you to like a person or respect their identity, it just entitles you to take from them for profit. The craft beer industry is very guilty of cultural appropriation but Hop Topic believes this can be changed.
One tangible step towards authentic inclusion is to incorporate a racially diverse staff within your brewery. Customers feel more comfortable at a bar with faces that mirror their own.
Another tangible step is to host nights reflective of underrepresented groups. When have you seen a brewery host a gay pride celebration? When was the last special in honor of Juneteenth? How is the Lunar New Year overlooked by nearly everyone? Why does Women’s day go uncelebrated? These are all missed opportunities for breweries to welcome the underrepresented to the craft beer world.
A third and important tangible step is to utilize diverse marketing and social media teams to ensure a wider variety of gender, ethnicity, and sexual presence represented in the industry. It’s important that breweries understand that it’s not just marketing messages that should be diverse, the marketing teams themselves should also reflect inclusivity. Additionally, a diverse marketing team helps to prevent cultural missteps before they reach the public by having an innate understanding of potentially offensive products or campaigns.
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