“I am ultimately responsible for the culture of our business. I am sorry.” – James Watt, BrewDog co-Founder
What started with allegations by 60 ex-employees that BrewDog was fostering a toxic workplace and” culture of fear” isn’t going away. In fact those complaints have escalated to more than 250 former and current employees.
The original post by “Punks With Purpose” targeted James Watt and Martin Dickie, who founded the company in 2007, as being ultimately responsible for a multitude of problems, saying that they exploited publicity, “both good and bad” to further their own business goals, chasing “growth, at all costs.”
But in a Linkedin post entitled “The Road Ahead For BrewDog” James Watt took 100% of the blame for the situation and mapped out what he hopes to do about it.
And because this is so important we are republishing a slightly edited version of his June 17th statement….
This week has been tough for everyone at BrewDog. I know the events from the last few days have caused a lot of pain for all of our team members and our community and I can only apologize for that. A group of former employees shared an open letter with us.
I am ultimately responsible for the culture of our business. The letter that ex-colleagues wrote to us is 100% my fault. To all of the signatories and to all of our team and community who were affected by the letter, I am sorry.
I want to be very candid about some mistakes that I have made that have detrimentally impacted our culture. In the hard and fast environment of high growth, I have all too often neglected many important people elements of our business.
Furthermore, despite surviving C-19 due to a phenomenal effort from our amazing team I had to make some very hard decisions to ensure our survival and these decisions have taken a considerable human toll on our business and had a negative impact.
Additionally, some PR mistakes that I have made in our past have also had a detrimental impact on culture. I can promise that I will not make these mistakes again.
I can’t possibly have all the answers at the moment but my commitment to our team is that I am going to throw my heart and soul into working with them to fix these issues. We can and will get better as an employer and here are the first steps we are taking on that journey:
We’re going to start by listening to everyone. We’ll conduct an anonymous staff survey to paint a comprehensive picture of the BrewDog culture at every level. We are also very close to appointing an independent agency to conduct a review of our culture and people practices to ensure we can make positive and inclusive change at all levels of our business. We’ll share the high level findings of the review internally and externally before the end of the year and as part of the process and we will also reach out to the people who signed that letter to give them a voice. We will move quickly, but we also want to take the time to get this right.
TT100 Survey Actions
We are finalizing action plans with each team on the output and feedback from the anonymous Times Top 100 survey, our plan is to share the key themes with our teams in the next week or so, and to be very clear on the specific actions we are taking in the areas highlighted for improvement.
It is clear that there are some areas of our business where we are too lean. We are conducting a full review with each department head of team structures over the coming weeks, to identify the key pinch points, and to put a plan in place to properly resource these areas.
International Team Benefits
There are some elements of our package and benefits that due to complexity and regulatory issues, we have struggled to ensure are in place in all in international parts of our business. We are actively resolving these issues as we speak and we will update our international teams directly on progress.
Exit interviews will be sent to all leavers from the last 12 months, this will happen in the next 14 days. Exit interviews will be introduced for every single leaver moving forward also. We intend to listen better to every voice and welcome all feedback as an opportunity to improve.
Our annual salary review from January as was postponed as a result of the ongoing impact of Covid lockdown at the start of the year. We are now scheduling for this to happen, with our aim to be to have changes in place for the 1st July.
Employee Representative Group
We are pulling together plans to form an employee representative group. Designed to ensure that moving forward our employees have a clear voice, and a connection directly to those in the business making strategic decisions about the future direction of BrewDog.
Career Development & Training
To ensure that we have the correct resource and guidance in this area, to make it very clear how our teams can progress and develop their careers in BrewDog, and to set a clear learning and development strategy for the months and years ahead, we have started recruitment for someone to lead this area within the HQ Beer part of our business. We have also recently appointed a Head of Training for our bars business, who will soon join us also.
These are just the first steps, and we’ll keep everyone updated with further actions that result from this listening and learning phase. The correct way to approach this situation, is to focus all our energy on how we can use this as a platform to think differently, challenging ourselves to build a team and company that we can all continue to be very proud to be a part of. Although this situation hurts a lot I am determined to ensure that we use it as a catalyst to become a better business.
(All Image credits: BrewDog and James Watt)