As we now have a much wider audience than we expected to, and we have seen a lot of similar questions and concerns pop up, we will collate some of the most common ones here to address them.
Who are you?
We are a small group of former BrewDog employees. Not every one of us was able to sign the open letter from former staff (for various reasons, including conflict of interest in our current roles), but more than half of us did, and every one of us agrees wholeheartedly with what the letter expressed. We are not supported financially by any business or organisation, everything we have done so far has been in our own free time, and since sharing the open letter and response, we do not speak on behalf of every former or current BrewDog employee – only on behalf of ourselves.
Why are you pushing for unionisation over BrewDog’s proposed ERG?
A union representing a group of over 10% of BrewDog’s employees can act as a third party with the experience to represent employees if BrewDog attempt to dismiss them unfairly (for instance). An ERG has no official power and can be easily ignored by BrewDog senior management, in the same manner in which they have previously ignored calls for change from within the business. We should also point out that before we added unionisation to our list of ambitions, almost 300 current BrewDog staff were already members of Unite Hospitality; well over the 10% requisite required for voluntary recognition. To clarify something else raised a few times, we have not, do not, and will not accept any funding of any kind from any trade unions.
What is your end goal?
With regards to BrewDog, our end goal is to see current and future staff protected against the attitudes and actions that existed while we were employees. We aren’t demanding that a specific path is taken to achieve this, we just want to ensure that whatever management structure BrewDog end up with, is one that treats all staff with respect, takes issues and concerns seriously, and does not put company growth ahead of the wellbeing of the team expected to deliver it. We are aware that we brought these issues to light in what some consider a very negative way. As long as BrewDog stick to their word, we fully intend to remain positive and support staff in positive ways. If and when BrewDog slip back into old habits, we will hold them accountable to their word and call them out.
Beyond BrewDog, we are hoping to help others to tackle their toxic workplace cultures – when organisations are willing to engage, we’ll support positive action, but if and when they aren’t, we’ll help their staff flag these issues publicly.
Why did you say you were”delighted” to have received over 300 signatures on the letter, when each represents a person affected by harassment?
Firstly, at no point have we claimed that every signatory personally suffered abuse, harassment etc. The letter stated that those issues existed at BrewDog, that they were understood to be widespread, and that the culture of fear was prevalent (even after leaving). Those who signed it were attempting to add weight and credibility to the accusations coming out about the company. The reason we were delighted to add signatures was that each one represented an employee ready to speak out, when they might not have felt comfortable doing so previously.
How did you verify signatories?
The initial letter was signed by a group of people we communicated with directly, and as such every single person on there was someone we knew to have worked at BrewDog. Once we opened up the form for further signatures, we verified as many people as we could against various social platforms to establish if the name was someone who had (or still) worked at BrewDog. We left out a couple of dozen names that we could not verify as being ex staff. While we accept that this was not a perfect system, and the chances are that a couple of names slipped through the net one way or another, we feel that looking for holes in this system merely distracts from the fact that so many former staff clearly agree, and crucially, BrewDog are not denying the claims. It is our intention to perform a full audit of the names on the letter, and we will do so as soon as we are able – we have to do so in our spare time – and in the meantime we have closed the form to protect us from further attempts to test or discredit the setup we have. To any former or current staff who still wish to sign; please DM us on Twitter or let one of the existing signatories know you would like to do so.