Work in Progress
Fighting racial injustice through a new programme called Work In Progress.
Saturday 28 November 2020
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Brewgooder launched in 2016 with a simple mission - to bring clean drinking water to 1 million people through the power of craft beer, by donating 100% of its profits to funding clean water projects. Through various charities, in its first two years Brewgooder gave back £38k and helped over 32 thousand lives through projects in Malawi. And 2020 saw the team behind Brewgooder branch out from not only fighting racial injustice in the poorest countries of the world, but to committing to fight racial injustice on its doorstep as well, through a new programme called Work In Progress.
The idea for the Work In Progress initiative grew out of the recent worldwide protests following the death of George Floyd. At its core, Brewgooder has always been a company that set out to empower others, so the notion of being denied opportunities - and not pursuing them because of the fear of violence or systemic barriers - was something the brewery felt needed corrected. Brewgooder founder Alan Mahon comments that after some internal reflection from the team, “we realised that no matter our good intentions, it is not enough that we were silently non-racist, and instead we should be actively anti-racist. We set about developing our personal Work In Progress action plan that we could begin acting upon immediately, that could grow with us as we grow, and that could be regularly reviewed and reported on.”
This plan consists of 14 points, and focuses on actions ranging from equal opportunity internships and board representation, to making sure that brewing partners share the same values and ensuring continuous development for its staff.
The team has already made headway with this action plan, including implementing a bursary in partnership with Heriot Watt University to encourage more Black and Minority Ethnic students to pursue a career in brewing and distilling, and securing mentorship for purpose-driven entrepreneurs and campaigners.
Once Work In Progress got off the ground, there was interest from other breweries, so the team opened the floor to all breweries and beer brands who wanted to join and help evolve the initiative in their own ways. Alan explains: “Work in Progress is aspiring to develop a more inclusive beer industry, so aside from our anti-racist action points, each brewery will commit to develop their own actions to increase inclusivity in areas including (but not limited to) Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic representation, LGBT+ Representation, Female representation and Disabled persons representation.”
Almost 30 breweries have signed on to the Work In Progress initiative so far at the time of writing, and support has been positive. Standing up and taking accountability is the first step in making a change, and Alan has been inspired by the responses: “Ultimately, we just wanted Work In Progress to act as a guide for breweries to take the step, while having the support around them to do so as successfully as possible. It’s about going on a journey, not completing a list, and journeys are best taken together.”
Reflecting on the industry and on themselves as a brand through these action points, and through collaboration with other industry partners, has “really made us look at how much needs to be done within our own company to be the sort of business we want to be,” comments Alan. Furthermore, he says: “We want WIP to be an industry standard that both brewers and eventually venues and drinkers recognise.” The hope is that eventually the programme will create a guide of sorts, for drinkers to support brewers that share their values, and help breweries keep up their push for inclusivity.
Ultimately, although it began thanks to the Brewgooder team, Work In Progress is not a Brewgooder initiative - it’s a campaign of its own aimed at any and all breweries and beer brands. Going forward, the plan is to hand it over to a team of people who will be able to focus on it and progress Work in Progress’ goals, who “have the lived experience needed for it to perform an authentic role in the industry,” says Alan. He adds: “As a team of five, we sadly don’t have the resources to give it the time and dedication it deserves full-time, so although we will still have heavy involvement, we’d love to see Work In Progress continue in the hands of a committed team who will take it where it needs to go.”
You can view the Work in Progress mission statement and 14 action points on Brewgooder’s website, see who’s signed up as a member at www.workinprogress.beer (and become a member yourself), and follow the programme’s progress on social media.
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