The Brewers Association continues its work to create a more equitable and inclusive craft beer universe
The Brewers Association’s Board of Directors recently approved a Code of Conduct (below) that will become part of the organization’s foundational documents. The Brewers Association is the national trade organization that represents the interests of the USA’s small, independent brewers. The creation of the Code of Conduct follows criticism from the beer industry and from beer consumers regarding how the BA responded to some recent, racially charged incidents involving member breweries.
More pointedly, the criticism centered on the lack of response. The Brewers Association had no mechanism or procedure in its bylaws for addressing these kinds of issues among its membership. It soon will.
The BA says that the next step is to solidify its governance documents and create a member complaint process. The intent of that process is to hold its peers accountable for unacceptable behavior while pursuing an educational path forward that leads to a more inclusive and respectful craft beer community. The new complaint process should be ready for review by the Board of Directors, and then then the entire membership, in the coming weeks.
The creation of this Code of Conduct comes on the heels of some unfortunate and unsettling incidents in the craft beer industry. One of the notable events that raised eyebrows and understandably caused concern involved a brewery in Minnesota, 56 Brewing of Minneapolis, where one of the brewery’s owners allegedly tied a rope into a noose and used it as a prop when he told a black employee to “come here, boy.” That owner has since divested himself and stepped away from the business.
Another notable case, last year an employee filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against Founders Brewing of Grand Rapids, Michigan, alleging that the company had fostered a racist corporate culture. The lawsuit was settled last fall.
The Brewers Association was criticized for essentially remaining silent and inactive in the wake of these events. The organization has made strides in recent years to promote and foster diversity and inclusivity in the beer industry but had yet to implement a mechanism to address these kinds of incidents.
“The Code of Conduct codifies our commitment and responsibility as an industry to comply with state and federal regulations and to eliminate discrimination, harassment, and bias of all types,” said the Brewers Association’s CEO, Bob Pease, in a statement released this week. “We take our leadership role seriously and recognize that we must be actively anti-racist. To this end, the Brewers Association is partnering with the Racial Equity Institute to conduct staff-wide training on structural racism on August 26. We see this as a step toward building our staff’s collective awareness of the context of structural racism in which we are all operating.”
Pease added, “Here at the Brewers Association, our Core Values and Beliefs include not only promoting and celebrating the small, independent, innovative culture of American craft brewers, vigorously defending our industry, and providing craft brewers with a unified voice, but also fostering a diverse and collegial community within the craft brewing universe.”
BREWERS ASSOCIATION MEMBER CODE OF CONDUCT
(as found on the Brewers Association website)
1. The Brewers Association promotes and protects the interests of American craft brewers. To effectively advance that mission, Brewers Association members and their representatives must set an example by acting with honesty and integrity, conducting themselves professionally, and embracing everyone.
2. The Brewers Association accordingly requires that all members conduct themselves in accordance with this Code of Conduct. Failure to adhere to this Code may result in suspension or removal from membership or other disciplinary action.
3. When this Code discusses obligations of members, it also imposes those obligations on the individual officers, directors, partners, employees, and other representatives of a member company. This Code also applies to the conduct of individuals serving on Brewers Association committees and subcommittees who are not associated with a member company.
B. Compliance with Law
1. Brewing and the sale of beer are heavily regulated. Members must make reasonable efforts to understand and comply with all applicable legal requirements imposed on their operations by federal, state, and local authorities.
2. Members must not willfully violate or disregard the requirements of the law. A pattern of repeated violations may demonstrate willfulness.
C. Respect for the Individual and Groups
1. Everyone deserves to operate and co-exist in an environment where each individual is treated with dignity and respect.
2. The Brewers Association is an organization committed to providing an environment free of discrimination and from abusive, offensive, or harassing behavior.
3. Therefore, all Brewers Association members must:
a. Treat all individuals and groups respectfully, recognizing their human dignity,
regardless of their diverse human characteristics: race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, physical or mental disability, size or appearance, genetic pre-disposition, religion, ancestry, national origin, or veteran status.
b. Contribute to a positive environment that is free of hostile and offensive
behaviors; i.e., free from harassment. Harassment means any unwelcome and
inappropriate verbal or physical conduct, or coercive behavior, where the
behavior is known or reasonably ought to be recognized as unwanted or
c. Speak out without fear of retaliation when the actions of others violate the rights of any individuals or groups.
d. Respect the opinions of others and address conflicts in a positive and constructive manner.
e. Respect other’s privacy in their personal lives.
f. Treat all individuals and groups professionally and respect their personal property.
D. Responsible Alcohol Consumption
1. As brewers and members of the community of brewing enthusiasts, members may share and enjoy alcohol beverages at Brewers Association events.
2. In consuming alcohol beverages, members must adhere to principles of responsible consumption.
3. Members must protect the image of both the Brewers Association and the brewing industry generally by taking steps to ensure no member, including themselves, will break any laws in the process of purchase, sharing, or consuming of alcohol beverages in association with Brewers Association events.
4. Should members consume more than a reasonable amount of alcohol and either are or appear to be incapable of functioning, either legally or appropriately, Brewers Association members accept their duty-to-act to keep those impaired members from breaking any laws and from harming themselves or others.
E. Responsible Alcohol Marketing
1. Members must adhere to Brewers Association Marketing and Advertising Code, available at https://www.brewersassociation.org/brewers-association-advertisingmarketing-code/.
2. Members must encourage the safe consumption of alcohol beverage products and refrain from sales and marketing practices that encourage the unsafe consumption of brewer products or consumption by persons below the legal drinking age.
F. Brewers Association Member Pledge of Conduct
1. We will behave in a professional manner and will respect the reputation of the brewing industry and the other organizations with which we interact.
2. We will seek to comply with applicable federal, state and local laws and in all cases will not willfully violate the law.
3. We will respect the human dignity of all individuals and groups we interact with, regardless of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, physical or mental disability, size or appearance, genetic pre-disposition, religion, ancestry, national origin, or veteran status.
4. We will promote lawful cooperation within the craft brewing industry in which we work, and between members, customers, and suppliers.
5. We will respect the confidentiality of sensitive information about Brewers Association business, such as information shared at the annual members meeting.
6. We will act at all times in accordance with ethical standards and in the best interest of the brewing industry.