Diversity and Inclusion at Escarpment

I wanted to take a moment from our regularly scheduled content to talk about diversity and inclusivity and what it means for Escarpment Labs. More specifically, I want to talk about the ways we've failed in the past, the lessons we've learned, and the strategies we're taking to ensure that we support our team and our people in the shared vision of a more diverse and inclusive craft beer scene.

At Escarpment Labs, we have a set of values we try our best to hold ourselves accountable to. This includes building trust, cultivating knowledge, and supporting our community. I know that corporate values statements are an easy thing to glaze over, and all kind of sound the same. But we've seen the impact of integrating this set of values into our daily work life. Our team knows that the only way forward is to trust each other to do the best job (and to have honest discussions when our trust is in doubt).

Most importantly, we recognize that craft beer is a community and that this community is stronger by adopting shared values of inclusivity and making real, concrete efforts toward creating a more inclusive and diverse craft beer scene. We are excited to collaborate with members of our beer community moving forward.

Sometimes we fail. I am willing to admit that I have made decisions as a manager and co-worker that have impacted the culture of trust and community within Escarpment. I'm also willing to admit that we're still far from perfect in holding ourselves to these values, but recognize that these things take time and we will work as a team to continuously improve. We see real value in exemplifying values that can support furthering diversity and inclusion in craft beer. A lot of craft breweries have been great at the marketing aspect of diversity and inclusion efforts, but the most dramatic results might be found by taking an honest look inside and asking what could be changed within the company to support diversity and inclusion.

We've been questioned a few times about our motives in vocally supporting various initiatives such as Black Lives Matter and denouncing troubling actions like the storming of the US Capitol. In order to address these concerns, we're drawn to Ren Navarro's motto of "Do better. Be better." This isn't about politics. This isn't about virtue signalling. It's about taking an honest appraisal of ourselves and our society, and standing up when things aren't right. Beyond that, it's about accepting and recognizing that we have to improve, that improvement happens iteratively, and that improvement is easier as a team. We believe that "ally" is something to aspire to, not something we get to call ourselves because we made a donation once.

What we did in 2020

Changing internal hiring practices is one of the simplest and most effective ways a craft beer business can be better at inclusivity. In 2020 we changed our hiring approach to make job postings much more widely available on more platforms (e.g. LinkedIn and Indeed, rather than just industry job boards). This resulted in larger and more diverse applicant pools. This is a very simple change that any brewing business can make to attract a more diverse applicant pool to their job postings.

Escarpment Labs committed to making monthly recurring donations to the below-listed organizations. Our criteria for selecting these organizations included aspects such as local community impact and relevance to serving underrepresented Canadians.

  • ARCH provides anti-oppressive, sex-positive, inclusive care, treatment and prevention services in the area of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted blood-borne infections through innovative health promotion strategies and community engagement.
  • Native Women’s Association of Canada represents the political voice of Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people in Canada, inclusive of First Nations on and off-reserve, status and non-status, disenfranchised, Métis and Inuit.
  • Black Legal Action Centre is a non-profit community legal clinic that provides free legal services for low or no-income Black residents of Ontario.

We also established a policy of matching donations equal to the cost of the (donated) yeast for collaboration brews, to a cause of the brewery's choice. We feel this is important since too often beer collaborations are purely about co-marketing and making donations gives more meaning and impact to collaboration.

2021: More collaborative action

In 2021 we will continue to work with brewery partners to make donations via collaboration beers. We are also working to support organizations and individuals who are pushing for different paradigms in craft beer, such as Change is Brewing out of Halifax.

We also recognize that throwing money at a problem doesn't solve it. Our efforts in 2021 will focus on how Escarpment can be integrated with the rest of the craft beer community in a shared goal to amplify underrepresented voices, fight racism, and support a more inclusive beer industry. As a small yeast company, it is hard to make a significant impact alone but alongside the tight-knit community of breweries, we believe that change is possible. If you're a brewery we partner with for yeast and you're interested in working together to make a positive change in the industry, please reach out.

We will also be working to create more accessible resources around beer education, especially homebrewing. We know that the only way for craft beer to grow is by improving access to beer knowledge, and a big part of the future of that for us will be ensuring that the knowledge we share is accessible to new and underrepresented people. Ever tried explaining homebrewing to someone who doesn't already have a bunch of buddies who brew?

Opening the floor

Our blog is a platform for sharing information and resources with the craft beer community. We want to feature more under-represented industry professionals, as well as seek other means to highlight and amplify more BIPOC, queer, and women voices in craft beer. If this sounds like you, we want to hear from you to learn how we can work together and how Escarpment Labs can highlight your work.