Humanity in Hospitality — A Panel Discussion on Gender-Based and Sexual Violence in Breweries and Taprooms

Humanity in Hospitality — A Panel Discussion on Gender-Based and Sexual Violence in Breweries and Taprooms

This episode is something very special to us at GBH. 

One of our neighbors, who literally lives above the studio here in Logan Square in Chicago, is a woman named Sheerine Alemzadeh. She's a co-founder along with Karla Altmayer of an organization called Healing to Action. 

Over a few parties here in the studio, we got to know these women and the work they do, which is to help build capacity for solving gender-based violence, which so often occurs in the workplace. One of the industries that struggles with this issue the most, which includes everything from sexual harassment and intimidation to outright physical assault, is hospitality. When we think of hospitality, we rightly think of hotels, restaurants, bars, and the like. 

But as a design firm devoted to breweries, we’ve become increasingly involved in hospitality as well. We’ve helped launch, on average, about a half dozen new breweries a year. And as more of them include a taproom in their concept, we’ve started to think about the hospitality environment in more depth and as Sheerine and Karla shared more of their experience fighting against workplace violence, we started to realize how pervasive and important this issue is becoming to craft breweries. And that says nothing about the male-dominated manufacturing environments that have their own history of harassment and violence. 

So we decided to partner with them to bring your a unique conversation combining their important work with the context we know so well: craft brewing. We all got together at Hopewell Brewing’s taproom right here in Logan Square, along with Melissa Josephs of Women Employed, Jacyada de Oliviera of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, and Samantha Lee of Hopewell Brewing Company. 

The goal was to have an open conversation that would encourage brewery owners and taproom staff to recognize the threats to their business and their staff as they cross into he hospitality industry. But also to take a look at what a traditionally male-dominated manufacturing culture brings with it as well. These two worlds coming together create an intersection where a lot of people are at risk. And the solutions, as they usually are, start with understanding and communication—and a willingness to address the issue.