Why women are on the rise at one of North America's biggest breweries

Things are shifting on the ground in the beer industry as more women find themselves in jobs that have been traditionally dominated by men throughout the MolsonCoors company.

MolsonCoors strives to include more women both in the boardroom and on the production floor

Women are on the rise in the beer industry as they take on roles that were once dominated by men. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

Traditionally, beer has been thought of as a male dominated field, from those who brew it to those who drink it, but as in so many other industries, that is quickly changing.

Women have been making their mark in the craft brewing industry for some time, but now that trend is making itself felt at mainstream giants like MolsonCoors, one of North America's biggest and oldest brewers.

Chloe Lovatt, who works with Creemore Springs, a subsidiary of MolsonCoors, knows first-hand how surprised people are when they find out she's the company's head brewer.

"They kind of give me a look like, 'No, we're looking for the head brewer,' and never really expect it to be a female," she told CBC Toronto.

Lovatt says there is more recognition now that women have the strength and the physical capabilities to get the job done.

"Brewing is hard work. You spend a lot of time on your feet, you're lifting at least 25 kilo bags, maybe more weight than that. You're twisting, turning, pulling," she said.

"As women are becoming more dominant in sports, women are becoming more dominant in brewing, as well."

Watch head brewer Chloe Lovatt explain how she got her start:

From CSIS to head brewer at a downtown Toronto brewery, Chloe Lovatt says she knows first-hand how surprised people are when they find out she's behind the suds. 1:04

Michele D'Angelo, vice-president of customer excellence at MolsonCoors, says while women have always held senior positions, they're now moving into other traditionally male positions throughout the company, not only in brewing but also in sales and marketing.

She says in the 10 years she's been with the corporation, there have been more female voices coming to the table and being included.

Michele D'Angelo, vice president of customer excellence at MolsonCoors, says in the 10 years she’s been with the company, there have been more female voices coming to the table and being included. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

"In the broader definition of diversity, it is so important. That's what's been very invigorating to me, seeing that growth over the years,"

The company has also included a female council, a grassroots advisory group made up of men and women across all disciplines of marketing, to look at products from a gender-neutral and female-inclusive lens.

Chloe Lovatt says there are a lot of opportunities now for women in the beer industry, especially on the production side. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

"It raises awareness of, 'Wow, I didn't think of that' ... It gets rid of unconscious bias, "D'Angelo said, adding initiatives like these help to change the behaviour in the organization and provide an extra pair of eyes.

Sales seeing change with women leading the way

The sales team at MolsonCoors is also becoming more inclusive. The company now requires its summer sales representatives to be 50 per cent male and 50 per cent female.

Jennifer Mullin, a field sales manager in charge of the Georgian Bay District, manages a team that's entirely male and says the industry has evolved a lot in the 15 years she's been at MolsonCoors.

"Over the years, there's been meetings I've walked into with my male counterparts and the first off, the customer might have thought I was a summer rep or I was here to support my counterpart, but here they brought me in because they wanted to have me present for different feedback."

Jennifer Mullin, a field sales manager for MolsonCoors, says it's important to change the way beer companies speak to their consumers because customers base have become more diverse over the years. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

She says beer advertising has changed drastically over the years and it's been about learning how to talk to different customers and knowing that beer drinkers are diverse.

She says 15 years ago, the company would focus most of its programs and promotions on men's magazines like Maxim, but that has changed. 

"We're a lot more focused on not alienating any of our drinkers," she said.

Mullin says she never feels like she's coming into her work as a underdog and knows she's good enough because she's had other women to look up to.

"I truly go in feeling as an equal. I'm not feeling like a have something to prove because I am a woman."

About the Author

Kirthana Sasitharan is a Journalist with CBC News. Reach her on twitter @KirthanaSasitha.

With files from CBC's Lorenda Reddekopp and Paul Borkwood


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