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YADA Collective

Creating an alcohol-free environment, community and experience for everyone.

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YADA Collective - Diversity AF - Black Owned Breweries

Diverse AF – Are there enough black owned breweries in the UK?

Oh yes, another guy talking about diversity; I hope you didn’t think we’d have left that back in 2020. In this piece by Rhondell, we will be challenging the number of black-owned breweries and BAME-led organisations within the alcohol-free industry.

2020 was a massive year for the conversation about race and racial discrimination.

It was painful, eye-opening, challenging, and it shook the world. It forced people to think about their perspectives, their upbringing and their subsequent responses. People literally tore down statues! 

The events of 2020 forced companies, institutions and even churches to acknowledge systemic racism and challenged them to take action. However, what stood out to me was seeing how deeply rooted the issues were. When you build an economy on the back of oppression, it will not be a quick fix. THIS TAKES TIME. Which may come as a surprise for our “post a black square” allies. The good news – for the first time in a long time, the world was questioning the status quo, challenging the notion of white privilege, and actively learning from each other. But what’s next?

Diversity and Inclusion! – The buzz words for businesses across the UK.

The proactive organisations have been reassessing their approaches to candidate attraction and recruitment, their marketing material, board membership, supply chain and more. Maybe this is just a phase, but I hope that this is a genuine start to the social and organisational change required to address some deeply ingrained racial discrimination issues. Existing organisations certainly have some work to be getting on with. THIS TAKES TIME. 

It will be hard work to bring about change in industries set in their ways, but the beauty of the alcohol-free sector is that it is just starting (roughly 3-5 years old). The industry is growing at a frighteningly rapid pace, and I am excited to be a part of it in a small way. But while it is still in its infancy, NOW IS THE TIME.

Now is the time to talk about race and to talk about diversity.

Now is the time to assess your recruitment practices, marketing, leadership teams, and supply chain to ensure they are inclusive. It will be much easier to start as we mean to go on. Let’s build a diverse and inclusive industry at all levels – from breweries to bartenders, from start-up entrepreneurs to executives, from investors to influencers. I don’t want to be sat here in 10 years, asking the same questions. 

State of play – What are the numbers when it comes to black owned breweries?

This section would have highlighted some incredible statistics to back me up, but I couldn’t find much to my shock and disappointment. From our own (very brief research), we know of 3 BAME-led (2 of them being black-owned breweries) out of the 1850 known UK breweries.

Alcohol, and the harm it causes, is often a driving force for people in the alcohol-free (AF) scene. In a recent study published by Alcohol Change UK, 7 in 10 BAME respondents (68%) said they had drunk for a mental health reason over the past six months (during the pandemic), compared to just 4 in 10 (41%) people from white British backgrounds.

It has also been noted that there are higher rates of abstinence in minority communities. Yet, there are concerns that an accurate estimate of the prevalence of problematic alcohol use is currently unknown as it is not accurately recorded. These are not just white people problems.

So, my aim with this blog is to challenge the industry while THERE IS TIME. 

  • What are you/we doing to build a diverse, representative and inclusive workforce?
  • What are you/we doing to make space and encourage products made by BAME led organisations? (Here is one you can promote)
  • What are you/we doing to pursue BAME customers?

I am no expert – but do I have to be now?

I am a 25 y/o black man in a space where I am the minority and I wouldn’t call myself an activist. But I am probably not alone in saying that the murder of George Floyd did something in me.

It gave a megaphone to the small voice in my head that says, “you are in a position to help”.

Does this mean I have to be the expert? Does this mean I need to assume responsibility and shoulder the work that may need to be done? Do I have some sort of unhealthy saviour mentality that I have adopted? Should I wait for a few more BAME (more activist type) people before I run my mouth? Do I want to be labelled? AM I QUALIFIED?

I don’t know all the answers yet. As you can probably tell, I am still processing while I am writing this. But here is some advice for future Rhondell in navigating this new world.

  1. Be careful of imposter syndrome and integration fatigue.
  2. Find allies quickly. If the industry is majority white heterosexual, non-disabled men, they will likely be the agents of change who hold the levers of power. So, they have the keys and can open many doors.
  3. Actively open the door and invest in products created by BAME led organisations.
  4. Get to know the people around me, its incumbent on us all to know and understand people who are different from ourselves.
  5. Most importantly, have lots of fun!

Now, YADA is far from perfect.

We have our own issues to work out, and as a start-up business, it can feel like we have more things to fix than successes to communicate. But, we are committed to building an inclusive company that represents the people we serve. One that shares its platform with diverse voices, which champions people outside of the majority/mainstream.

This opinion blog was punched out by YADA Co-Founder, Rhondell Stabana