Like many businesses, we did some soul searching earlier this summer as the Black Lives Matter movement shone a light on issues of systemic racism in our society. We have always seen ourselves as a lifestyle brand that focuses on connecting people to one another, their community and their natural surroundings. In our minds, connection included everyone. But recent events got us thinking. Could we be doing more to make diversity and inclusion a central part of our focus as a company?

The first thing we did was hire a diversity consultant to run a company-wide, virtual workshop on the issue of diversity and inclusion. The workshop included a discussion of the steps we could take as a company – from our brand imagery to our hiring policies – to ensure that Georgian Bay Spirit Co. is a place for everyone, no matter their racial or ethnic background, gender identity, sexual orientation, or ability. You may have noticed that, over the past few months, we’ve focused on diversity in our social media imagery. We’ve also made an effort to follow, and collaborate with, more BIPOC individuals and businesses to ensure we are exposed to a broader range of perspectives, ideas and interests.

We’ve also updated our approach to recruitment to attract a more diverse group of potential employees. This has included re-evaluating our job criteria to place less emphasis on industry experience and more emphasis on transferable skills given the relative lack of diversity within our industry. And speaking of the need to increase diversity in the spirits industry, we’re excited to announce a new, annual $5,000 bursary in partnership with Niagara College’s Artisan Distilling program. This bursary is available to students who are under-represented in the distilling program and are currently receiving OSAP (Ontario School Assistance Program). We’re excited to see the new talent and perspectives this bursary brings to our industry, and we look forward to following our bursary recipients through to successful careers in the spirits industry.

Hopefully, these steps we have started taking are just the beginning of a larger transformation – not only of our company or our industry but of our society as a whole.

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