Like so many in craft beer, we have been following the stories shared by Brienne Allan, @ratmagnet on Instagram over the past several days. Stories that have accumulated over countless years and come from women all over the world. It is heartbreaking to see, in such a graphic and overwhelming way, the flaws in our industry and the harm it can cause.
We got into craft beer because we wanted to follow a dream and make something that could be shared and enjoyed by everyone. We acknowledge that we come from a place of privilege and that privilege can preclude really seeing the full picture of the harm caused to people in our industry. We know that trying to avoid doing harm is not enough. Simply having a section on sexual harassment in our emplyee handbook, is not enough. Simply hiring women and granting them space isn't good enough. Not participating actively in harassment, “locker room talk”, problematic jokes and behaviour, biggotry and discrimination, isn’t good enough. Assuming that because we have made a space, that all people will know and feel welcome here, isn’t good enough. Neutrality is no longer good enough.
We believe it is important to acknowledge that we are imperfect, that we have made mistakes in the past and that we may make future mistakes as we work towards true and honest allyship to all marginalized groups in the beer industry and society as a whole. We know that there are going to be times where we are incredibly uncomfortable and this is a difficult and challenging thing to do, but it is important that we do the work and make the changes. We know that we need to listen to these stories, we need to absorb them and learn from them. We need to believe women and other marginalized people when they communicate what they need, their fears, concerns, experiences. We need to stand up and take action to support and defend not just those within our team, but everyone who walks through our doors, stops by our booth at events, or purchases our products. Craft beer should be for everyone, but unless we in craft beer and all industries related to craft beer from producers of ingredients to retailers, bars, restaurants and beer fests do the work, it ultimately won’t be.
While we have always had a general policy on harassment and discrimination, in the past several months, we have worked to expand and clarify it. We have worked to reinforce to our team that the lines of communication are always open and there are a variety of channels they have access to so that they can share their concerns, stories, thoughts, opinions and ideas with us in whichever one they are most comfortable with. We have, since our opening, worked to ensure that those working with us are not subjected to problematic behaviour or comments from patrons or staff, and if they have, those problems are addressed. We have taken a stance of supporting those who come forward with concerns and looking into the matter. We are developing proper supports for those who work with us and experience harassment or discrimination in any capacity. We are currently working on improving our hiring practices and policies to make them more inclusive and open to all individuals interested in working in craft beer so that no one is excluded or feels unwelcome. We are also enrolling our staff in a workshop with CCASA, The Calgary Communities Against Sexual Assault. This is an ongoing process that involves continuing education and understanding of issues like this and we intend to do the work.
To all the women who have shared your stories, we are sorry our industry didn’t do more to protect you. We are sorry that the industry has put up so many hurdles and roadblocks to your success. We are sorry that it has taken so long for us to hear you and really listen. We are sorry for the part we have personally played in all of this and our hope is that we can be there for you now. That we can grow into an industry that is worthy of the knowledge, experience, passion, creativity, and effort you have put into it for so long. We hope that we at Zero Issue can become what we should have openly been all along, a supportive and inclusive space where everyone is valued and respected regardless of their gender, sexuality, ability, age, race, religion, or any other defining feature that makes people unique and wonderful.
If you, or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment, discrimination or assault, there are a number of supports and resources available to you.
The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services https://aasas.ca/
The Alberta Bullying Resource Center https://abrc.ca/
Resources available in Calgary for support can be found at https://www.calgary.ca/cps/community-programs-and-resources/victims-of-crime/victim-resources-assault-harassment-and-threats.html
Calgary Communities Against Sexual Assault: https://calgarycasa.com/
Alberta's One Line for Sexual Violence 1–866–403–8000