Driving diversity and socially responsible hiring policies
Words by Pinnacle Guide founders
First off - diversity is a big word. And perhaps not a terribly accurate one as a catch-all. A room could be diverse in immeasurable ways - and not all of that diversity can be seen at first glance.
So an important discussion we should be having when determining how The Pinnacle Guide can be a driving force towards positive change both behind and in front of the bar - is what language do we use, that can really handle the intricacies of this subject.
Indeed this was the first topic of conversation during our Round Table about Driving Diversity and Socially Responsible Hiring Policies. Panellist Ashtin Berry suggested that we may be undermining the topic by using this catch-all term, and made the point that we shouldn't be afraid to adopt a new language. "Inclusive Practices" was the suggestion made by fellow panellist Iain Griffiths, although as always on these Round Tables, we weren't looking for definitive answers. But does The Pinnacle Guide have a responsibility to be defining these terms?
Perhaps the answer is yes. In fact, we all have the responsibility to be, at the very least, having the conversation, especially if coming from a place of influence.
We're in the position where social responsibility is finally at the forefront of people's minds but it's obvious that there is so much work for the drinks industry to do on this globally. Aside from the obvious lack of diversity that we can see on both sides of the bar, there are countless other more subtle inequalities and exclusions that we mustn't ignore.
By asking the right questions of bars at the point of registration to be awarded a PIN - might we inspire these venues to question their own practices and drive small steps towards positive change? If we're making a bar think about their hiring policies, their guest relations - their overarching ethics as a business - hopefully on a global scale that's got potential to make a genuine impact.
How we do this needs much work... We need to make difficult decisions and eliminations. If a bar which is considered in all other ways to be amongst the best of the best, but has a team made up almost entirely of cis-gendered white males - should they be penalised - or actually - disqualified? Even if it's not as obvious as that, as panellist Deano Moncrieffe pointed out, how do we scratch below the surface to ensure venues are creating professional pathways for every employee to fulfil their true potential regardless of their background. Fellow panellist Hannah Lanfear added that team members should be able to bring their true selves to work, not have to put up some sort of facade in order to be accepted.
It's important that we as an industry are making authentic movements towards genuine inclusivity in front of the bar too. Does everyone feel truly welcome? Or even more importantly than that, does everyone feel safe to be there? To use the toilet? To order a drink? Does the venue serve the community they are within? How we measure that in practice might seem insurmountable, however, again The Pinnacle Guide has the responsibility to ask the questions and not just simply pay lip service to the answers.
As always - we're not trying to find solutions during these sessions, just start the conversation and make people think. Following the same ethos as the previous session on Environmental Sustainability, Berry's last statement was "presence not perfection" - small steps lead to big change.
Ashtin is an activist, educator, sommelier, mixologist, sociologist, beverage consultant, human being, and creator of not just cocktails but change. By 25 she had a decade of experience in hospitality. She's been the beverage director of a half dozen spots and worked with many brands you've heard of. In that time, Ashtin was also named; Imbibe Magazine's 2019 Bartender of the Year, Observer's 50 Most Influential People in Dining and Nightlife and 50 Best Bars 2020 Icon.
As an activist - and this is all while doing everything stated above - Ashtin has developed an intersectional framework for building spaces that has culminated in her present-day focus of consent-based communication and building open, honest spaces where employees are people that can do more than simply survive.
In 2016, her creative content agency Radical XChange was born, and she launched the yearly multi-day symposium Resistance Served to celebrate and contextualise the contributions of the African Diaspora in hospitality.
Deano is the founder of Equal Measures, founder of Hacha Agaveria and award-winning mixologist and consultant.
Deano is a specialist Agave Spirits consultant as well as a passionate advocate and consultant for Diversity and Inclusion within the hospitality industry. Deano's standout career began in earnest in Paris in 1999 and has seen him develop multiple small brands from concept to creation through creative innovations. Most known for creating disruptive groundbreaking serves like the world's first piece of drinkable cocktail art and his highly acclaimed award-winning cocktail of the year 2020 - Mirror Margarita.
2020 also saw the launch of his independent platform Equal Measures which aims to champion all causes related to Diversity and Inclusion in hospitality which he works on with Hannah Lanfear.
As well as Equal Measures, Hannah is the founder of The Mixing Class, a company dedicated to delivering spirits education to the cocktail and spirits industry, and with the motivation of providing equity of opportunity to those who work in the trade.
She has managed and trained bar teams, consulted on bar openings, and has travelled the world as a global brand ambassador experiencing bar culture the globe over while managing the sales, marketing and exports of Jensen's Gin.
Hannah is one of the IWSC & WSET Future 50; #65 on the Bar World 100, and Imbibe's Educator of the Year 2019.
Iain Townsend Griffiths is an entrepreneur, educator & bartender with over 17 years of experience in hospitality. He is known internationally as the co-founder of some of the most important drinks-based businesses of the last decade including the multi-award-winning Mr Lyan brand, as well as Trash Collective (FKA Trash Tiki).
'Trash' helped pioneer the conversation of sustainability in the drinks world through their online content & wild parties.
Iain lives in Brooklyn, NY having co-founded his latest venture, Jellybone, a creative design & events company formed with the powerhouse Denver operating duo - Mary Allison Wright & McLain Hedges.