With March as Women’s History Month, it allows us to take the time and recognize the women who have challenged the status quo. Women such as Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress as a member of the House of Representatives; Dr. Mae Jemison, the first Black woman in the astronaut training program and the first Black woman in space; as well as countless other inspiring women. Although strides have been made, many recognize that more can be done to support women looking to pursue their dreams.
Since 2019, the Brewers Association (BA), Boulder, Colo., has been supporting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts through its DEI Mini-Grants Program. The program allows recipients to use funds to support goals for events; however, the ongoing pandemic has limited face-to-face events as well as the program’s timeline. Despite these challenges, grant recipients still were able to host various events in 2021, including the FemAle Brew Fest, a craft beer festival dedicated to highlighting, supporting and inspiring women in the craft beer industry.
“The Brewers Association Diversity & Inclusion Event Grant greatly impacted the event by helping offset some of the costs associated with the production of the event, including the funding of hotel stays for the speakers, brewers, and representatives that were being featured in the festival,” said Frances Antonio-Martineau, FemAle Brew Fest founder, in a statement.
Antonio-Martineau also stressed the importance of events like these for women and the craft beer market.
“FemAle Brew Fest is proud to be able to help create a platform for women in brewing to be highlighted and celebrated along with their peers in the craft brewing industry,” Antonio-Martineau said. “We have seen the festival open new doors, generate dialog, create new collaborations, camaraderie, opportunities for leadership, and overall empowerment of women in the industry.”
The BA’s grants program also helped further the mission of the Dames and Dregs Beer Fest, which took place in December 2021. The event spotlights the hard work of women-led breweries, brewers and brewery employees, as well as women-led businesses and nonprofit organizations in the region.
“The Brewers Association grant made it possible for us to welcome 38 craft brewery, cidery, meadery, and kombucha partners,” explained Rebecca Royster, a co-founder of Dames and Dregs, in a statement. “We are filled with hope and courage about the future of the beer industry. Beer brings people together. We brew it to share with friends and strangers alike. In doing so, we create opportunities to share our stories and to exchange ideas. We have met so many awesome women and allies through Dames and Dregs who are deeply committed to creating a more inclusive community. We are excited to continue these conversations in 2022.”
As we advance through 2022, the association notes that its 2022 grant program cycle is looking to make an even greater impact as it is accepting fund proposals for media production projects, and educational and training initiatives. It will continue to support events designed to increase diversity across the craft beer market.
“Though funding events has been a successful approach, we recognize that there are more ways that we can support the work of those around the country who are fostering greater diversity in the craft brewing community,” said Alana Koenig-Busey, DEI Mini-Grants program director, in a statement. “COVID-19 has shifted how we approach face-to-face events forever. People have had to get creative about how to engage people and deliver meaningful experiences. These changes to our grant program will help us evolve with the changing times.”
Additionally, the Minneapolis-based Females in Food Community, founded by Angela Dodd, announced last year that it was launching its corporate partnership program. Designed for food and beverage corporations that are committed to strengthening company culture and adding talented women to leadership positions, Females in Food’s corporate partnership program provides customized resources that allow brands to promote their DEI initiatives and job openings directly to qualified female candidates, it states.
“There is a significant lack of trust between corporations and female employees who don’t feel supported in their careers. Our program is designed to help companies close the equality gap, improve their culture, build trust and engage and retain the best talent,” Dodd said in an October 2021 release. “We know women look for new jobs differently than men do, and Females in Food provides the tools necessary for companies to become employment destinations for gifted female leaders.”
The platform notes that approximately 16% of leadership roles are filled by women in food and beverage corporations, compared with 23% in other industries.
“It’s our goal to help women in [food and beverage] advance beyond the very real glass ceiling, but to get there we need corporations in our industry to join the movement to create long-lasting systemic change,” Dodd stated. “Our professional network of experienced females in food is growing rapidly throughout the country, and our corporate partnership program presents an opportunity for companies to be a leader in change by creating an environment where women can thrive in their careers.”
As we take the time this month to reflect on the historic contributions from past female leaders, now also is the time to support their future opportunities within the beverage market.