Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Does your craft brewery or other company have a code of conduct?

Meet Brienne Allan, a brewer at Notch Brewing in Salem, Mass. In May 2021 she asked a simple question in an Instagram Story— "What sexist comments have you experienced?"

What followed were hundreds upon hundreds of stories of sex-based discrimination, harassment, and other abuse.

  • "Me standing on top of a ladder, a guy from behind the bar, 'Watch out for that glass ceiling up there!'"
  • "At the last brewery I worked at an OWNER told me women don't belong in a brewery. In front of employees and patrons in the tap room. Everyone laughed."
  • "Are you the wife?"
  • "A brewery owner asked me to pose with his cans in a swimsuit to promote him."
  • "That's a man's job."
  • "Owner of the brewery would drink and try to kiss and grope his female employees on the clock, me included."
  • "I found out that male coworker with less responsibilities was making more money than me. I asked my boss to be paid at least the same amount as that coworker. Shortly thereafter I got slammed with an improvement plan. When I asked to see the said plan, nobody could produce it. I left."
  • "I had a well known rep in the NE area come down for an event. This man in particular very frequently got drunk at these events. He was getting ready to drive himself to his hotel for the night. I offered to drive him to keep everyone safe. As we pulled up to his hotel, he forced himself on me, groped me aggressively, and then invited me up to his room so he could watch me shower. He's still in the industry. Still being disgusting. His employers, as far as I know are aware of it. And did nothing except get him a company uber account.
And on … and on … and on …

One brewery that kept appearing by name in the stories she received was Tired Hands Brewing Company in Ardmore, PA. As a result, its owner (who was at the center of those allegations), Jean Broillet IV, stepped away from all daily operations. The Brewery also now publishes a comprehensive Code of Conduct on its website.

It's rare nowadays to come upon an employer that does not have a workplace harassment policy. It is less common, however, for that policy to include people and behaviors that fall outside of illegal protected-class workplace harassment. It's even more uncommon for an employer to publish its anti-harassment policy on its website.

The time has come for the uncommon to be universally adopted. It's time for all employers to adopt a universal code of conduct in addition to their workplace anti-harassment policy. It's time to let all employees, customers, vendors, and others know that any mistreatment of employees or others will not be tolerated.

What should that code of conduct look like? What should it prohibit? What penalties should it contain? And how should it be publicized? Those are issues for another day … and that other day is tomorrow. Come back tomorrow for a discussion of the nuts and bolts of your code of conduct.

Cheers to Brienne Allan, one person who is single-handedly changing an industry — not by filing a lawsuit and not by forming a union, but by asking a simple question on social media and challenging employers to do better.