Q&A: Harpoon partners with Brewers Guild to help diversify the mass beer industry
Mass. Bay Brewing Co. in Boston – the maker of Harpoon beers – and the Massachusetts Brewers Guild announced in April that they were teaming up to launch a new website to provide resources to promote the work of diversity, equity and inclusion in Massachusetts breweries. Double HopForwardEquality.com, the resource center is based on a 2019 job fair of the same name. The co-founder and president of Mass. Bay Brewing Company Dan Kenary and Brewers Guild Managing Director Katie Stinchon spoke with WBJ about how Hop Forward has gone from a career fair to a resource center, website goals and related programming on the bridge for the months to come.
Photo | Courtesy of Hop Forward Equality
Dan Kenary, president and co-founder of Mass. Bay Brewing Company
Can you tell me about the Hop Forward Equality Career Fair 2019 and how it led to HopForwardEqualit.com?
Kenary: We formed a diversity and inclusion committee in May Bay, better known as Harpoon Brewery, about three years ago, so we’ve been focusing on this issue for some time. And one thing we did notice was that we just weren’t getting applicants from under-represented communities to apply for jobs in Mass Bay. So we were like, “Okay, we have to change the equation here and try to reach the underrepresented communities in the craft beer business and try to get more applicants for jobs.”
I’ve been in the industry since before it was an industry. It was called the microbrewery in the 1980s. I did my first craft brewery conference in 1986, and you’d go there for years and – Katie knows that too – it was mostly a bunch of white dudes in white shirts. flannel with beards. And it’s kind of our industry forever, and we just have a job to do to get the word out and bring more diverse communities into craft beer.
So we decided that they wouldn’t necessarily come to us, without us reaching out to them and making sure they feel welcome and get to know us, so let’s have this Hop Forward Equality job fair.
Photo | Courtesy of Hop Forward Equality
Katie Stinchon, Managing Director of Mass Brewers Guild
Stinchon: We were going to recreate that model and regionalize it to different places across the state, but sure enough COVID happened, the dumpster fire year, and no one hired. It was impossible to bring people together for these kinds of events. But we really didn’t want to lose the momentum that we had gained or the partnerships that we had started to form, so we pivoted, just like many companies, and channeled our energy into this resource center for, hopefully. Solving the two major issues that I listen to our members about is what keeps them from engaging in diversity and inclusion efforts – resources and money, so the resource center is completely free.
Would you say the website is aimed more at employers or employees?
Stinchon: I would say this is both because employees often lead the diversity and inclusion committees within their respective breweries, so I guess it will depend on the size of the brewery and who is leading those initiatives. .
If you had to set one goal or more goals for the website, what would they be?
Stinchon: Hope to break down any fear or reluctance to dive into this job. Breweries may fear making a mistake or think they don’t have the right tools to deal with it. That’s why we’ve really worked with strong partners here in Massachusetts, to analyze their resources and extract what will hopefully work best for each brewery.
Kenary: We kind of want to take the power of our community, if you will, and get in the driver’s seat on this issue, increase reach and increase inclusiveness. So, again, we’re starting to reflect the community better than we do now. And I think we’re looking for tangible results year after year. We recognize, hey, that won’t change overnight, nor necessarily from month to month, but I really hope we see increased diversity in our workforce over the next few years, which is measurable.
In compiling the information for this website and doing the job fair, have you understood why the beer industry has been so historically white?
Kenary: He was also incredibly masculine. Guys drank more beer than women, historically maybe that was part of it. And craft beer, like I said, was started by a bunch of mostly white guys, and that’s kind of how the industry started. I hope we’ve never been deliberately unwelcoming, I don’t know anyone who was, but I just think, probably, we’ve grown a little bit, each of us, in our silos. And instead of reaching out horizontally to other communities, we just continued to build on our silo. So I don’t have an answer except that it’s really something that concerns the whole country. This is something the Brewers Association, our national business group, encourages and supports as well.
Could you talk about what it was like to have other people on board?
Stinchon: So we formed our Diversity and Inclusion Committee about two years ago, and we regularly post diversity and inclusion workshops and trainings at our conference and incorporate that language into our resources and examples in our newsletter on a monthly basis.
We started a series of diversity and inclusion success stories on our blog where we asked our brewers to send us what they are doing in their successful breweries in hopes of inspiring other breweries. to look and think about their blinders, and to think about it. some of the obstacles that might exist in their faucet rooms that they don’t see regularly, and maybe that would prompt them to make some changes.
When we unveiled our website on the 12th to our members, we got a lot of enthusiasm about it, so hopefully we will be able to attract a lot of people to our next training round, to inspire them people to post jobs on our jobs board and get more involved in our committee as a whole, in the work that we do.
Can you talk about the Black Brew Dialogues series that’s going to happen?
Stinchon: Collin Knight is on our Diversity and Inclusion Committee and he also runs a travel agency in Dorchester, Jamaica Plain and Roxbury. We had discussed ways to highlight and amplify the work of diversity and inclusion in craft beer culture. And from there he kicked off this show where he’ll go to some of the state’s breweries, take a behind-the-scenes tour, then sit over a beer and have candid conversations about the diversity and the effort. inclusion of this brewery, where they ‘see success, where they still struggle.
So there are a lot of great stories we hope to highlight across the state and some of the great work going on.
Do you envision other types of events as COVID hopefully ends?
Stinchon: We’ll have to take the temperature of the state guidance to see. We would love to relaunch the job fair in the fall, to start planning in different regions. We are moving forward with a virtual training which will be for CEOs and Founders only which will mainly consist of understanding your biases, asking questions such as providing enough resources to our team, your HR support to attract under-represented groups. and see if your staff are trained enough to retain these talents once they arrive.
This fall, we will be hosting a workshop specifically aimed at employees and managers, and which will focus on measuring your work, how to keep going, how to stay inspired.
There is a lot of burnout in the job. People will form their D&I committee, they will write their mission statement, they will have a ton of big meetings about what they want to do, and then they can kind of get stuck on what their next move should be as a group at the end of the day. within their breweries. . We hope the workshops we are running will keep them inspired and motivate them to continue.
This interview has been conducted and edited for length and clarity by WBJ writer Monica Busch.