BrewDog apologises after 'toxic’ culture claims

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

BrewDog response: 'We aren’t going to make excuses, we’re going to take action,' said co founder James Watts following social media claims about 'toxic attitudes' at the company.
BrewDog response: 'We aren’t going to make excuses, we’re going to take action,' said co founder James Watts following social media claims about 'toxic attitudes' at the company.

Related tags: Brewdog, Beer, James watt, Legislation, Sexism, Scotland

BrewDog co founder James Watt has apologised to staff after an open letter claimed employees across different departments shared a “residual feeling of fear.”

The letter was posted on Twitter by Punks With Purpose and claims staff have been “left burnt out, afraid and miserable” by bullying. 

A “cult of personality” meant a culture within craft beer which “gives weight to sexist and misogynistic brewers who claim to be standing up for free speech,” current and former employees claimed.

The letter accused BrewDog of a workplace culture of “toxic attitudes towards junior staff.” 

Behaviour from senior staff made juniors “feel belittled and/or pressured into working beyond their capacity, and often eventually feeling forced out of the business.”

The letter did not make specific accusations as “quite frankly we cannot risk the wrath of BrewDog’s notoriously trigger-happy legal team."

However, signatories said they had experienced mental health problems “as a result” of their time at the company.

Like objects

Staff called for “genuine, meaningful change” beginning with an apology “from anyone and everyone who has worked for BrewDog and treated people like objects; harassing, assaulting, belittling, insulting or gaslighting them."

Co-founder James Watt said the Scottish brewer and operator was “committed to doing better” and would take action to address the issues outlined in the letter.

Watt said: “At BrewDog our people are our main priority, which is why the open letter we saw on Twitter was so upsetting, but so important. Our focus now is not on contradicting or contesting the details of that letter, but to listen, learn and act.

While the company has “always tried to do the best by our team,” Punks With Purpose’s tweet “proves that on many occasions we haven’t got it right.”

Watt said there were many thousands of employees with positive stories to share about the company.

Learn more

He added: “We are committed to doing better, not just as a reaction to this, but always; and we are going to reach out to our entire team past and present to learn more.

“But most of all, right now, we are sorry.

“It’s hard to hear those comments, but it must have been harder to say them. We appreciate that and we will endeavour to honour that effort and courage with the real change it deserves.

"We aren’t going to make excuses, we’re going to take action. From our commitment to sustainability to our passion for beer, BrewDog has always been defined by taking responsibility and continually improving. This is no exception.”

In an earlier note on a staff forum, Watts said the group “have always had a high performance culture, we have always moved at speed and we have always focused on growth.

“It is fair to say that this type of fast paced and intense environment is definitely not for everyone, but many of our fantastic long term team members have thrived in our culture.

“Our culture is built on rewarding and developing great people and focusing on growing our business.”

Related topics: Beer

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