Industry Leaders Court Gender Parity

Dear Client:

In case you hadn’t noticed, 2021 was a banner year for recognizing the need to diversify the ranks – and leadership – of the U.S. beer industry. 

Diversity, equity and inclusion: It’s increasingly obvious that such efforts are business necessities, feeding into not only corporate culture, but also bottom lines. 

Last month, BBD’s own Jenn Litz-Kirk moderated Heineken USA’s first LinkedIn Live Session for its new “Behind the Label” series, which seeks to reveal the people and processes behind the beer industry [see BBD 09-09-2021]. Behind the Label’s first installment focuses on gender diversity in the industry. 

The inaugural virtual session on that topic featured a panel of leading women in the category: Heineken USA CEO Maggie Timoney; Forbes contributor and author, Tara Nurin; SVP, Merchandising – Snacks, Beverages, Alcohol, Front End and Convenience Stores for Walmart, Andrea Albright; and Brewers Association and Principal of Crafted For All, Dr. J Jackson-Beckham.

We had to open the discussion with an obvious question: Why should the industry care about gender diversity? What would the beer industry gain by employing more women, and women leaders – and a more diverse workforce in general? 

The country’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailer had an answer. 

“I think gender diversity means you’re a stronger and more innovative company,” answered Walmart’s Andrea. “A lot of companies miss the mark on understanding why inclusion is important. 

“It’s about getting the most out of your associates, and making sure your company reflects the people and communities you’re serving. If you aren’t including people of all colors… you’re missing the cognitive diversity you need to innovate for the future.” 

That means including “people who think differently from you.” And it’s “critical we take those steps – not to be ‘PC,’ but to be more innovative and cognitively diverse,” for the sake of business. 

But the industry has a ways to go on this front.

“I need both of my hands and feet to count the number of women I know who have left the industry … because they feel very disheartened,” said Tarin Nurin. “And that’s probably in the past six months to a year. Women are leaving the industry because of the way they’re being treated. That’s a lot of talent we risk losing. We want to attract as much talent as possible.“

WHAT PROGRESS HAVE WE MADE? WITH GENDER PARITY AND DIVERSITY. But where is the industry making progress toward diversity?   

Maggie offered Heineken USA’s perspective. “We are 42% female in our company,” and 39% of senior managers are female as well.

“I’m really proud of that,” said Maggie. “I wish I could say it was because of me, but it’s not.” She nodded to their chief legal counsel, Julie Kinch, who started their Women’s Leadership Forum back around 2008. It’s basically an incubator for their female talent. 

She argues “there’s something structurally that needs to be put in” to help achieve gender diversity, whether it’s something like a leadership forum, or otherwise. 

“We’re well on the journey at Heineken USA. But sometimes I go into industry meetings and I’m the only woman in the room. And success for me, personally,” says Maggie, “is to ensure that we’re not the only women in the room anymore.” 

Andrea added that she’s “really proud of Walmart’s percentage of women in the workforce – 55% of our workforce is women, and 45% of our managers are women. 

“The challenge for us is continuing to find ways to progress them through the leadership ranks, and making sure we continue to have more women officers, and are making good progress.” 

But even just talking about these things, says Tara, is “remarkable progress.” We’re talking numbers, but when she started in the industry not terribly long ago, “there were no numbers, as to how many female brewery owners” or managers there are. “As a journalist, it was maddening.” 

Dr. J offered some of the recent quantification work done in the craft space. 

“The BA conducted the craft segment’s first industry wide benchmark” around 2018/2019, she said. “Really, that’s the first time we’ve had comprehensive data about who participates in the industry, and where.” 

What the data says is that “we have a lot of opportunities we’re not taking advantage of right now.“ There’s also a “lot of compression of women” in non-management and front-of-house positions. So there’s still some “glass ceiling to shatter” even in the craft segment.  That also has a “direct tie” to who feels most comfortable in the segment. 

“34% of craft beer drinkers identify as women — to me, there’s 16% there we absolutely could be extending an invitation to,” said Dr. J. 

That said: “I think there has been tremendous progress,” said Dr. J. “Anecdotally, I’ve been a passionate craft beer consumer for 20 years, and gosh, things look a lot differently now than they did in the early 2000s, late 1990s. I’m so grateful for that, but we’ve got a lot of opportunities in front of us.” 

Still, it “feels like we’re hitting a critical mass,” and ready to seize those opportunities. 

Maggie added on to that with an industry backdrop known all too well.  

“Beer is under pressure and women outnumber men in terms of university enrollment. … At a certain point, we’re going to lose that war on talent, because we’re not attracting the best, diverse thinkers into our industry. …

“And we need to get them” so we’re not talking in a mirror. 

PART II – More this week on key areas the HUSA Whitepaper has pinpointed to improve gender diversity: Recruitment, diversifying work options to level the playing field (utilizing tech like Zoom for working mothers), and providing education and allyship.


“Color-coded wristbands can help colleagues signal their openness to a hug. It’s important to schedule 10 minutes of travel time between meetings. And it’s tough to get some people into meeting rooms with masks if they can join a video call without a mask from their desk.”

Those are some of the topline take-aways from an article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal this weekend about the challenges big companies face when deciding how to bring office workers back to the building in a safe way, and how to deal with vaccine mandates. The piece featured our industry’s own Molson Coors as an example. 

Recall that Molson Coors chief Gavin Hattersly enforced a vaccine mandate for 2,200 corporate employees in the U.S. in August, which Gavin says was his most “difficult decision” as they could lose employees. Turns out less than 1% of corporate staff left the company, either because of the vaccine requirement or because of the return-to-office decision.

Gavin initially wanted to bring back office folks for five days a week, but employees said: ‘Slow down Gav. We like this flex work sked, and we have kids that need attention, and maybe it’s not completely safe to return to the office, so slow your roll.’

Not exactly that, but close.  To Gavin’s credit, he listened.  

“The Molson [Coors, sic] leadership team early this year discussed a four-day-a-week plan, then settled on a schedule of three mandatory days a week in the North America offices. All corporate employees in the U.S. and Canada would have to report to their office on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. With everyone in the office on the same days, colleagues could more effectively meet and collaborate in person, the company’s leaders reasoned,” reports the Journal. 

“I like people being together and this time last year, I would have probably thought we’d be back five days a week,” said Gavin. “But the world has moved on from that process. And as a leadership team, as a company, we moved along with it. That just wasn’t going to work. It wasn’t what our people needed and it wasn’t where the world is.”

BEERNET Q:  What are your return-to-office policies today?  Ping us at [email protected]


BEERNET RADIO:  In our new Fresh Voices podcast series, meet Taylor Foxman, founder and ceo of the Industry Collective. Taylor and Harry discuss how emerging bev-alc brands can leverage the power of their story, personality of the founder, omnichannel strategy, social media, your audience, and more to win in an increasingly crowded marketplace. 

Listen here   |   Watch here

(Reminder:  We value your feedback on brands, categories, issues or people weed should be showcasing.  Leave a vm or text with us at 210-772-0123).



THE BEER SUMMIT IS NEARLY SOLD OUT.  Not kidding. Just around ~20 seats left for the Beer Summit so we can fit into the Hotel del Coronado’s Grand Ballroom, (comfortably and within fire marshall rules, which tend to coincide).  

It will be sold out before Christmas I expect.  Still, seats remain available for the Wine & Spirits Summit directly after the Beer Summit, which typically has even more incredible speakers and insights than beer.  You ought to consider checking them both out. 

This year for both Summits we feature speakers from:

-Boston Beer*

-Molson Coors*

-Constellation (2)*

-Heineken USA*



-Athletic Brewing*

-Lone River Ranch Water*

-Owl’s Brew*

-NielsenIQ (2)

-Breakthru Beverage


-Delicato Family Wines*





-Facebook (meta)


-Diageo Beer Co.*

-Vintage Wine Estates

-Cohn Rest. Group

-Whole Foods

-Waterbird Spirits*


…..and more.

*denotes c-level exec, founder, or above.

HARD PITCH:  I believe (because that’s what I’m told) our Summits are where the serious business of beer and bevs gets done; but in a sunny, warm, and pleasantly ocean-side atmosphere in the dead of winter during the industry’s slowest month. My only question is, why wouldn’t you come to Coronado Island near San Diego — yes, that’s in Southern California — in late January to make career-changing connections and unlock incredible opportunities through what you learn?  /END OF HARD PITCH

NOTE TO A-B DISTRIBUTORS.  If you are an A-B distributor and can’t attend because yeah A-B scheduled SAMCOM the same week (not on purpose, I don’t think), consider sending a mid-level associate as an incentive or a way to broaden your bench with knowledge. Ping me …. [email protected] . We can work something out. 

AS ALWAYS: SIG O’S ATTEND FREE.  Remember, bring your significant other and they can and will attend our receptions and drink expensive beer wine and spirits and eat heavy appetizers on the unlimited BBD Platinum Amex.  Look, be a hero and make it a long weekend work trip with your snuggle buddy.

Again, the Beer Summit is nearly sold out.  (And you can’t call us last minute as a friend and expect us to pull strings, the hotel has cuffed us at a hard limit). 

Register for both Summits today and get a discount.

More info here or call Jessica at 210-805-8006

Until tomorrow, 

Harry, Jenn, and Jordan

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” – Sir Winston Churchill

———- Sell Day Calendar ———-

Today’s Sell Day: 9

Sell days this month: 23

Sell days this month last year: 23

This month ends on a: Fri.

This month last year ended on a: Thurs.

YTD sell days Over/Under: -1