Since this statement was posted we have been in correspondence with a number of former employees who have expressed their dissatisfaction with their experience working for our business. We feel it is important to formally acknowledge the fact that we know we haven’t met the mark to for all of our employees and we offer our apologies to those who did not have the experience they hoped for within our business. This statement is about our commitment to the journey we have been on and the steps we have taken to improve. We are listening and learning and will continue to do everything we can to try to raise the bar for anyone employed by our business.
Over the course of the last 18 months there has been a greater collective awareness of social justice issues, and we have seen these causes gaining more momentum. During the last week, a conversation hosted by Brienne from Notch Brewing, focused around the treatment of women in the global craft beer scene – particularly in Europe and the US – has shone a light on the challenges women in our industry face. At Northern Monk we have worked hard to ensure our business is a welcoming and safe space for people from all walks of life. However, we know that this is a journey, and we can always do better. Given how close some of the stories felt to our business and our industry, we felt compelled to join the conversation. In the first instance we want to make absolutely clear that anything but completely equal treatment of women in our industry is wholly unacceptable. We have a zero-tolerance approach to incidents of sexism, sexual misconduct, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and racism.
Some of the actions we have taken, and initiatives we have implemented, are detailed below. We are listening. We have detailed these to allow for feedback and suggestions, but some may also find useful tools, actions or ideas for their journey too. We will be working with our Diversity and Inclusion Forum, as well as watching the ongoing conversations on this issue, as we continue to look for more ways in which we can educate ourselves and improve as a business.
Despite our intention to create a safe and inclusive workplace at all our sites, we have had a number of incidents over the years which have gone against this. In each case, we have acted quickly and taken decisive action with those at fault. A number of years ago, we had an instance where two female members of the team reported inappropriate treatment from a major customer at an event they held with us, in which they were made to feel unsafe. We spoke to our management team and the decision was unanimous, we have not dealt with the customer since.
DIVERSITY & INCLUSION FORUM
We hold a Diversity and Inclusion forum bi-monthly; the forum informs and guides our internal practices and external communication. For example, after the murder of Sarah Everard, we held a forum and asked Emma Freivogel from Radical Recruit to join us and speak about men’s violence against women, and what more we can be doing as a business to support both employees and customers. The forum has given us a number of proposals that we have then been able to implement, such as using a recruitment agency to support diversity in our recruitment – we partnered with Radical Recruit, providing subsidised transport for those who finish work at night, updating our signage at all sites (you can read more about this below), providing training on inclusion for every member of the team, as well as challenging micro-aggressions as a team, and we include information on the forum in our internal newsletter.
SAFE SPACE FOR FEEDBACK
Whether it’s 360 reviews at every level of the business, company engagement surveys or skip meetings, which we’ll be introducing in the coming months, our staff are given numerous opportunities to offer constructive feedback in a confidential and anonymous format. This feedback has informed numerous policy and strategy decisions for our business. Whilst we don’t always get it right and this is reflected in the feedback we receive, we always take the opportunity to listen and to learn, and to share the positives with our teams.
EVERYONE WELCOME & STAFF SAFETY POLICY
We have displayed the Everyone Welcome policy (https://everyonewelcomeinitiative.com/) in our Refectory bathrooms since 2018, however we feel that we can make our signage more robust, and we’ve recently been working with our Refectory Management team on this. All our sites display a decal which affirms that everyone is welcome at our table. Our Staff Safety policy re-enforces our zero-tolerance policy on any behaviour that makes our team feel unsafe. Working in hospitality often means late nights, our policy includes processes to ensure that all employees can get home safely. In addition, we have initiatives in place to protect our female identifying guests in place at both our Refectory sites.
INVESTING EARLY IN HR
At just 25 employees we took on a HR Coordinator. We are ambitious about our business, whether it’s the beer experiences we create, the continued growth of our organisation, or being a great employer – we want to be the best we can. Managing all these ambitions and growing at a rapid pace whilst trying to ensure our workplace continues to be a great place to work is not easy, and there is no doubt that we have made mistakes along the way. Sophie (now HR Manager) took on the HR role and helped bring many of our ideas to life and is now a champion for all of the people within our business. With Northern Monk she has taken on numerous training courses, including a HR-specific qualification. The staff at Northern Monk have someone they can go to with any case of discrimination or misconduct, knowing this will be treated with utmost seriousness. This is also testament to the level of work, and heart, Sophie has given to the role, and we thank her for that.
We feel one of the reasons the beer industry has been slow in progress when it comes to certain social issues is the mono-culture dominance of white men both making, and drinking, the product. We have recently reviewed our business objectives and decided on a 2025 plan. The objectives were decided on based on feedback from across the business. One of these was around diversity. As a result of this, we have made the commitment to reflect our community by reflecting the same level of diversity within our business as there is in our surroundings of Leeds. For example, Leeds is 51% female, our team is currently 43% female. This is work in progress, but we aim to have this listed with current stats at all times on the Northern Monk website in the coming months.
Alongside the perspectives and different lived experiences diversity brings to the table, we believe a diverse team will go some way in helping people from different backgrounds feel safe implicitly when working and drinking in our spaces.
We are listening, and we will continue to listen and learn. If you’d like to get in touch with us about anything, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re open to feedback and suggestions on what more we can do at our Refectories and festivals to ensure the safety of everyone. Or, if you work in craft beer in the UK and would like to talk to our HR team about what more we can do collectively, we’d love to hear from you.