Diversity lacking in local beer industry, says advocate

Ren Navarro of 'Beer. Diversity.' says local beer industry needs to hire more women, and people of colour.

'If you go into the brewery, it's pretty white and bearded'

Ren Navarro of Kitchener started Beer. Diversity. and regularly gives talks around southern Ontario about diversity in beer drinkers and the industry. She's been invited to take part in the Craft Brewers Conference in Denver in April to be part of a panel on beer diversity. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Members of Kitchener-Waterloo's craft beer industry say they want to see more when it comes to diversity.

Ren Navarro runs Beer. Diversity. and said the beer industry should look more like the people it serves.

"When you look at the colour of the beer drinker, the age range and sexuality, it's a huge array of people," she told Craig Norris on The Morning Edition.

Navarro said retailers and brewers are reaching out to a broad audience, but it's the same people who work in the breweries.

"Out here it's definitely still pretty white," she said.

Ironically, as Navarro pointed out, the industry was far more diverse in the past when it wasn't as attractive and people didn't really want to work in beer.

"When we think of beer five [or] six years ago, it wasn't a thing that was as cool as it is now," she said.

This meant there were very specific groups of people working in the backrooms as brewers and brewers' assistants.  But according to Navarro, the landscape of beer has changed again "now that it's cool and everyone wants to get in on it."

Navarro is taking that conversation to the U.S. in April where she'll be speaking at the Craft Brewers Conference in Denver, Colo.

As the only Canadian on the panel, she said the conference will be an opportunity to share knowledge, as well as talk about how to continue the discussion with more brewers and leaders in the industry.

"[With] diversity, people always think it's just white or black ... There's so much more to it."

Listen to the whole interview with Ren Navarro:


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