Necromancer head brewer Lauren Hughes, of Greenfield, at work in the brewery in Ross. (Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/PublicSource)
After reports of employee harassment soured a 2022 beer festival, regional brewers have adopted a code of conduct for navigating inappropriate behaviors and setting a new tone in a male-dominated industry.
About a year and a half after a harassment incident during a Pittsburgh brewing festival crossed the line for marginalized workers, the Pittsburgh Brewers Guild has passed a Code of Conduct to root out harmful workplace behaviors. Workers who spearheaded the effort say the set of rules will act as an important first step in a larger fight for a more inclusive and diverse industry.
“It feels really good,” said Lauren Hughes of Necromancer Brewing. “I’m really excited that we have something in place. It’s a great first step.”
The guild, a coalition of more than 40 Pittsburgh-area breweries, passed the code in mid-October after a unanimous vote. All workers are granted protection from discrimination and harassment along the lines of ethnicity, nationality, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, ability and body type, religion and neurodiversity.
The code delineates “inappropriate” and “zero-tolerance” behaviors and outlines the respective disciplinary processes. It also encourages “inclusive behavior,” which includes being respectful of those different from you and being open-minded during discussions about potential misconduct.
“Zero-tolerance behavior” — which refers to illegal use of weapons; physical assault, abuse and violence; and sexual harassment — could result in suspensions or terminations. For “inappropriate behaviors,” such as angry outbursts, bigoted remarks and “unwanted, excessive flirtation,” the code instructs breweries to issue a formal warning and seek an apology before potentially taking action toward an individual. The guild provides a flowchart for responding to misconduct and forms for making reports.
It won’t instantly change the culture of the brewing industry, where, according to 2021 Brewers Association numbers, ownership is 94% white and 76% male. Steps the local guild is taking to address this include a call for a dedicated, DEI-focused board seat and subcommittee, seats that have not yet been filled.