WORK IN PROGRESS

Lockdown has taught us a lot at North, both as a business, and as individuals.

The world as we know it has changed, and we are now in a position to build back better. Lockdown has forced us to reflect upon what is important to us, who we align ourselves with, and how to support our staff and wider community in Leeds.

Lockdown has seen an incredible sense of grass-roots local support here in Leeds. Neighbours have been shopping for neighbours. Musicians and closed cinemas have been collecting for food banks. Art projects have sprung up over billboards across the city. Restaurants have been feeding the NHS. We have participated in two charity campaigns: Other Half’s All Together Beer appeal raising funds for Hospitality Professionals, and In Good Company’s Posters for the People raising funds for Mind Charity and The Blurt Foundation.

We have felt incredibly proud of Leeds, but we have also had uncomfortable, complex and overdue conversations about how the make up of our team does not reflect the diversity of our city.

The highlighting of racial injustice across the world has prompted us to look at ourselves as a company, reflect upon where we can do better, and commit to change.

At North we pride ourselves upon our integrity: Our bars are known as friendly, safe, inclusive independent spaces, and are working to build a culture that makes us one of the best employers in the UK.

While we are incredibly proud of our gender split, including in managerial positions, our lack of cultural diversity lets us down

We don’t have a quick-fix for this. One blog post is not going to mean that a box has been ticked and we are now an actively anti-racist company. Combatting racial injustice, and ensuring that our business represents diverse voices, will require continuous focussed work and commitment.

Community Outreach

  • We will widen our charity outreach to include Leeds based charities who support Black and ethnic minorities. Our current global charity partner is Action Against Hunger and we have raised over £28,000 for them through brewing beers, sponsored events, corporate sponsorship, and online events in the time of CV19. We will support Leeds based charities alongside this continuing partnership.
  • We will support these charities through cash donations raised through a fundraising beer. We will also encourage staff to participate in fundraising activities (e.g. this year a team completed the Three Peaks) to support these charities.
  • We will provide work experience for Black and ethnic minority students – both within the brewery and through support from our HQ team. This will include the development of key skills (marketing, sales, HR), help with CVs, mock interviews, and hands on work experience.
  • We will create partnerships with local community groups, schools and colleges to nurture an interest in brewing and manufacturing as a career from an early age.
  • We will actively work on collaborative projects with Black and ethnic minority owned and lead businesses locally or globally each year, sharing our brand platform.
  • Our senior team members will provide support by sharing our knowledge, time and experience with entrepreneurs from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds. Our co-founder, Christian, currently donates time to act as a mentor at Leeds Beckett University Business School. Christian will be looking to re-focus his role there to provide support to Black and ethnic minority students.

Recruitment

  • We will create a paid internship program designed to provide Black and ethnic minorities tangible experience of working in craft beer.
  • We will strive to encourage diverse applicants through the wording and marketing of any job vacancies.
  • We will actively seek to recruit team leaders from Black and ethnic minority communities to help lead the future direction of our business. Our gender split in the business is currently 44% female / 56% male. We need to see this diversity reflected in our ethnic makeup.
  • We will publish a transparent recruitment policy on our website. This will outline our recruitment process from start to finish, including what to expect from an interview at North. We believe that transparency is key to accessibility.

Social Media and Advertising

  • We will increase the visibility of Black and ethnic minority drinkers in our social media photography. We have fostered an inclusive, family friendly image through photography taken at our Eat North food fair, and through regularly featuring female members of staff on our social media feeds. We believe that a focused effort to improve the ethnic diversity of these images will make our bars and taprooms a more inclusive space.
  • Our marketing team will work to create a more inclusive, and diverse image of craft beer drinkers and normalise diversity in our industry.

Staff development

  • We will dedicate 1 day per year for anti-racist learning and development for our team, held annually on May 25.
  • We will expand our HQ library to include anti-racist resources, alongside books of fiction and history written by Black authors. Our HQ library was started as a staff resource by our Mental Health support team, and the ongoing development of the selection is integral to its success. It is accessible to all team members across the bars and brewery.
  • We will report on our progress against our policies annually.
  • This report will be made available via our website to ensure transparency. It will be used to generate both short and long term targets.
  • The report will be discussed in full with our management teams at our quarterly meetings.
  • The report will not use the term ‘BAME’ to inflate the perception of diversity in our business.

Our HQ team are working together to create an action plan for the above commitments. As noted at the beginning of this blog post anti-racist work is an ongoing process. The points above will develop as we work, and provide a foundation for us to build a better company.  

We will also be working to create a wider action plan which encompasses further issues that we have been reflecting upon throughout lockdown: From sustainability, to an ethical advertising policy, to choosing who we work with going forward.

The reaction to this global crisis has highlighted the people who look for ways to use their businesses and reach positively. We will not forget those who gave offers of help, who were at the end of the phone line for a supportive chat, and other acts of kindness and support shown along the way.