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CraftBeer For All 21+

Gleaning The Twitter-Poll - Perceptions of Inclusion and Equity and the Craft Brewing Employee Journey

This blog post may be the most tangible evidence to date that I have officially abandoned the hallowed halls of higher education, as it features a serious discussion of data captured using the most dubious of “research methods”–a 24hr Twitter poll. The social scientist in me is tempted to discuss all of the ways that these results in no way approach scientific validity. From the limited sample size to the short collection period, from the nonexistent sampling method to the oddly-worded questions, there is a bushel of salt to be taken here.

But rather than doing this, I am going to opt for another approach. Asking, what if? What if the 163 respondents to the poll below were even marginally representative of the craft brewing industry at large? If so, there are a couple of interesting conversation-starters lurking in these results.

Let me start by admitting that my original interest was in determining what aspect of the employee journey was perceived as LEAST equitable in the craft brewing industry. I wanted to get a better sense of how my efforts may be most productively spent developing online resources and learning experiences. At the last minute, however, I decided to ask the converse. I have long been of the opinion that the conversation around organizational equity and inclusion is far too problem-centered. I’ve made a conscious effort to shift my language, intention, and action to a more opportunity-centered paradigm (ugh…sorry that sounds super corporatentious). In short, I think that part of embracing an opportunity-driven mindset is opening our inclusion and equity conversations up to more frequently acknowledge what is going well, what’s working, and what can be productively built upon. Moreover, I can make some inferences from these results to arrive at the answer to my original question.

My first hypothesis was that onboarding would be perceived as the most inclusive and equitable part of the employee journey, because of the degree of organizational self-reflexivity that is part of bringing a new employee on board. Stasia Brewczynski summarizes my thinking succinctly in this comment.

Conversely, I suspected that recruitment/interviewing would be perceived as least inclusive and equitable based on conversations I’ve had with 1) brewery leadership over the past two years that has identified recruitment as the most significant challenge to building a workforce that is representative of the diversity in any given brewery’s surrounding community, and 2) with craft beer enthusiasts with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and social identities that indicate that “getting their foot in the door” is tremendously difficult. I was surprised, then, to see onboarding and recruitment/interviewing locked in a virtual dead heat at 2 and 3 in the polling results.

Lagging far behind the first three responses (which were grouped relatively close together) was performance review, which captured less than 9 percent of polling responses. It’s unclear whether or not this suggests that performance reviews are perceived as non-inclusive and inequitable or whether they are significantly less common in the industry. A number of comments suggested the latter may be the case.

Begging for performance reviews or outright not getting them is something I’ve personally experienced. — Mitch (@mitchvhtx) May 21, 2020

As such, about an hour or two after I posted the original poll, I was inspired to post a follow-up (thanks to everyone who provided feedback/commentary). Unsurprisingly, the response rate dropped by 33 percent. So again, after dipping into our mountain of salt, let’s consider the 109 responses to the follow-up poll below.

I was curious if there might be some correlation between perceptions of inclusion and equity and the level of formalization of any given part of the employee journey. As expected, performance reviewing was reported to be the least formalized. Without standard operating procedures that make inclusive and equitable practices transparent, it’s less likely that these practices will be used at all or perceived as such by employees…right? Wrong.

Any correlation between the formalization of processes and perceptions of inclusion and equity that might have been established by these two polls were ground out with the second result. Training/development was reported to be conducted nearly as informally as performance reviewing–that is to say, the part of the employee journey perceived as most inclusive and equitable and the part that was perceived as least inclusive and equitable were reported to be nearly equally informal.

So, faced with these highly unscientific and somewhat surprising results, what can we glean? Here are my top three takeaways:

As an industry, we haven’t “nailed it” in regard to any particular part of the employee journey. There are opportunities to improve at all stages of the employee journey with respect to inclusion and equity. Industry members experience more formalized processes at the beginning of their employee journeys than they do further down the path. While these polls don’t support a correlation between formalization and equity and inclusion, they do raise the question, “Should we be focusing more on parts of the journey that pertain to employee retention?” Onboarding seems to be a fruitful space of successful practices and positive employee perceptions. It may be possible to repurpose some best practices from onboarding for use in other parts of the employee journey.

This was an interesting exercise that I am eager to repeat. Follow me on Twitter to weigh in on the next poll on Thursday, June 4. Cheers!