The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) officially launched the Building Relationships and Empowering Women (BREW) initiative at its 84th Annual Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas. Through the BREW initiative, NBWA is committed to offering a robust forum for women leaders to grow professionally within the beer industry. This initiative has been long in the works, with the official launch put on hold by the COVID pandemic.

“Points of entry into the beer distribution industry have eluded women in the past, but thankfully, that dynamic is changing. NBWA and our members value gender diversity and are committed to lifting up and empowering women across the country. The BREW initiative will support this important goal,” said Kim McKinnish, NBWA senior vice president and chief financial officer, in a statement.  

Although there have been important gains since 2016, women still are significantly underrepresented at all levels of management across all industries nationwide; women represent only 21% of C-suite roles. The BREW initiative, which was developed by distributors and the NBWA Next Generation group, seeks to unify and advance women who work in the beer industry. NBWA also will create opportunities for women to network, share best practices and build connections while also providing leadership development and educational and mentorship resources.

“Beer brings people together, and we need to embody that in everything we do. Men and women across the industry need to celebrate and attract diverse perspectives across positions. I’m proud NBWA is leading these efforts and look forward to seeing more women at the table — making beer a stronger and better industry,” said Craig Purser, NBWA president and CEO.

At the event launch, Jenn Litz-Kirk, executive editor of Beer Business Daily and Craft Business Daily, addressed women and Next Gen leaders and discussed the benefits of and need for more women in the industry. 

“With women in beer, there’s a stewardship and a sisterhood that’s hard to describe if you haven’t lived it,” Litz-Kirk said. “Right now, women are not as visible as we should be. Ladies, we’re here to make our industry look and be more like us. When that happens, I believe other great things will follow. And this is the right moment for it. We might not all have the same vision for women in beer and that’s ok. But I do know one thing about every single woman in this room — as different as we are, we get it done.”