CAMRA is continuing to consider how it can help tackle discrimination in the brewing and pub industry as a London head brewer challenges the whole industry to do more to combat the issue.
The head brewer of Wild Card brewery, Jaega Wise, used the Brewers’ Congress conference in London this week to outline her three key ideas for how sexism could be addressed by the industry.
She called for the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) to find out more information about the number of women working in the brewing industry, to measure how under-represented they were.
She also called for an industry-wide “code of practice” to seek commitment from brewers not to use sexist marketing – the US Brewers Association has implemented a similar scheme for its members.
Finally, Wise called for organisations which run beer festivals and competitions, such as SIBA and CAMRA to ban beers with sexist imagery from entering.
Many CAMRA festivals – including the Great British Beer Festival – already have informal policies which question stocking beers with discriminatory names or marketing. Volunteers also enforce CAMRA’s Code of Conduct and Volunteers’ Charter, designed to ensure volunteers and members of the public do not experience discrimination of any kind at festivals or CAMRA events.
This year the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival is also trialling a stated policy which will prevent beers with discriminatory imagery or names being invited to supply.
Responding to Wise’s comments, National Director Abigail Newton confirmed that the National Executive had already been looking at the issue for several months, with a view to turn best practice already being followed at branch level into national policy and guidance.
She said: “Jaega has raised an important issue and we shouldn’t overlook other points that she made in her speech – particularly that this requires a whole industry approach. Brewers should take responsibility for ensuring they don’t market beer in a discriminatory way. Industry publications should consider what advertising they do and don’t take. Industry organisations such as SIBA, or consumer organisations such as CAMRA also have a part to play and can apply pressure, but it’s more powerful with cross-industry support.
“She also raises a questions worthy of further debate: why do some producers alienate the vast majority of their potential customers with material likely to only appeal to a tiny, and shrinking, percentage, when they could help beer have a much wider appeal both in terms of age and gender?
“The Manchester Beer and Cider Festival has been trialling a proactive approach to discourage brewers from using discriminatory marketing material and our volunteers have taken action at any of our festivals when offensive material, or behaviour, has been drawn to their attention. CAMRA’s National Executive has been looking at this issue for several months with a view to taking best practice developed by individual branches and festivals and turning it into national policy and guidance which we hope to be rolling out in the New Year.
“We already have a charter and a code of conduct detailing our commitment to inclusivity and diversity and the treatment and behaviour we expect to be shown between volunteers and fellow volunteers and towards visitors at our events.”
SIBA also issued a response to Wise’s comments. It posted on its Facebook page: “SIBA members who promote their beers with sexist, offensive advertising have no place in our membership of responsible, professional brewing businesses.
“All entries into SIBA beer competitions across the UK go through a process of screening by our Competitions Team, to ensure they are not sexist, racist or offensive. Any entries judged to be inappropriate are referred to SIBA’s Competitions Committee for disqualification from competitions.
“This process will be formally included as part of our new SIBA Competition Guidelines for 2018, alongside general advice for entrant brewers, which will be published prior to our first regional competition in April 2018.
“With regards to gathering data on women working in the beer industry, we think this is an excellent suggestion from Jaega Wise at Wild Card Brewery (a SIBA member) and we are going to expand the questions on brewing employees in the annual SIBA Members’ Survey to give us more data in this area for the future.”
It added that Wise was being interviewed for the next issue of the SIBA Journal.
Industry advertising watchdog The Portman Group tweeted that it would be “reviewing Portman Group Code rules and guidance”. While the Portman Code contains guidance for producers on how they should market and promote their products to avoid encouraging alcohol abuse, it currently does not contain guidance regarding discriminatory material.
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