On tap at Harpoon Brewery beer hall the other night, a limited edition “Hopportunity Pale Ale” marked a special occasion: a first-of-its-kind diversity job fair for the craft brewing industry.
About 150 people showed up at the South Boston Waterfront hall to learn more about job opportunities. The place wasn’t exactly brimming with people of color, but it was diverse for an industry that is predominantly pale and male.
“It was a great first step,” said Dan Kenary, chief executive and cofounder of Harpoon Brewery, adding that the event was a lot more diverse than other industry gatherings he’s attended, which tend to be “95 percent white dudes in flannel and beards.”
Kenary’s Mass. Bay Brewing Co., the parent of Harpoon Brewery, won a grant from the Brewers Association — a national trade group — to host the Hop Forward Career Fair Tuesday to attract women, minorities, and LGBTQ people to craft brewing. Mass. Bay also partnered with the Career Collaborative, the City of Boston’s diversity office, and the Massachusetts Brewers Guild to put on the event.
Other local brewers who participated in the job fair included Boston Beer, Dorchester Brewing, Jack’s Abby, Lord Hobo, Night Shift, Trillium, Turtle Swamp, and Wormtown.
To their credit, craft brewers realize how monochromatic the industry is and have launched diversity and inclusion programs such as the job fair to change the makeup of the workforce. Through the Brewers Association, they’ve also started to collect diversity data about the industry and are sharing the results.
The first such survey, published in August on its website and on CraftBeer.com, showed that about 88 percent of the people who own craft breweries are white, 3.7 percent are American Indian or Alaska native, 1.9 percent are Asian, 2.4 percent are Hispanic, and 1 percent are black.
Only 7.5 percent of the breweries reported having a woman who actually did brewing. Among non-production, non-service, non-manager jobs, women account for about 37 percent of those roles.
Among non-production, non-service, non-manager positions, Hispanics make up about 7 percent, blacks account for nearly 2 percent, and Asians are less than 1 percent.
Coretta Corbin-Rival heard about the job fair through the Career Collaborative, a group that helps unemployed and underemployed people with job placement and building careers.
“I’m looking into starting a business,” said Corbin-Rival, who is black and came with her brother and nephew.
She doesn’t drink much beer herself, but she senses the market opportunity. “There are a lot of beer drinkers in Boston,” Corbin-Rival said.
Ainsley Castro was there on behalf of Year Up, a Boston-based nonprofit that helps young adults reach their potential through a yearlong program that includes internships at companies. As an employment placement manager, she was scouring the job fair for positions that would make a good fit for Year Up participants and graduates.
She found plenty of entry-level positions but was hoping for more.
“Diversity is not entry level,” Castro said. “It needs to be from the top down.”
John Lincecum, cofounder of Turtle Swamp Brewing in Jamaica Plain, wanted to be part of the job fair because he’s particularly interested in recruiting more women to the production side. At the event and online, Turtle Swamp collected 29 resumes, including eight from women.
“It’s important that women aren’t just serving you the beer,” Lincecum said. “It’s important for women to make the beer.”
Brewers want diversity not only because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s better for the bottom line. Having a diverse team creating and selling beer helps brewers to grow their market beyond the typical white male consumer.
Katie Stinchon, executive director of the Massachusetts Brewers Guild, a trade group, hopes to hold similar diversity job fairs in other parts of the state.
“When you go through traditional routes . . . you tend to get the same applicants,” Stinchon said. “We have to be more creative.”
Harpoon’s Kenary is figuring out next steps, including holding the job fair in a more diverse part of Boston, such as Dorchester or Jamaica Plain.
“We don’t want this to be a one off,” said Kenary, who has stepped up diversity efforts at Harpoon with the formation of a committee, anti-bias training, and an employee survey.
“[If it’s] a year from now and we’re talking and nothing has happened, I would be really disappointed,” Kenary said.
Me, too. Changing culture will take some time, but craft brewers are off to a good start.