BrewDog loses B Corp status after BBC exposé
Beer brand BrewDog has been stripped of its B Corp status after the body which provides the accreditation reportedly conducted an investigation into staff complaints about a “toxic” workplace culture.
BrewDog first achieved B Corp status in February 2021. In certifying as a B Corp, businesses need to prove their credentials relating to good governance, worker treatment, community impact, environmental impact and engagement with consumers. B Corp certification is not permanent; brands and companies need to re-certify every three years.
Several media outlets reported on Thursday (1 December) that BrewDog has either been stripped of its B Corp status by awarding body B Lab, or that it has voluntarily chosen to step aside from the scheme.
It is being reported that B Lab began conducting an investigation into how BrewDog came to receive accreditation, given the accusations levelled against the business by former staff in a programme on BBC Disclosure in February.
In the episode, called ‘The Truth About BrewDog’, 15 staff alleged abuse of power in the workplace by higher-ups, including inappropriate comments made to female staff. These accusations, of course, do not chime with B Lab’s requirements on worker treatment. Yet BrewDog received its highest store in the worker categories of the B Corp Impact Assessment.
B Lab says it investigates “material, credible and specific claims” against a company on the grounds of either “intentional misrepresentation of practices, policies, or outcomes claimed during a company’s certification process”, or “breaches of the B Corp community’s core values”.
Brewdog co-founder and chief executive James Watt has always denied the allegations. In September, Watt won a Court of Session action against a former employee for defamation. Nonetheless, Watt and his team did hire a consultancy to review the business culture.
B Lab and BrewDog have provided comments to media outlets including The Guardian and The Caterer. edie contacted both organisations directly for further information and confirmation of these comments.
The comments outline that B Lab UK had asked BrewDog for more information but that the brewer is not in a position to provide the accreditation body with these details at present. Instead, it wishes to focus on its existing profit share scheme and work to reduce emissions and plant trees.
A BrewDog spokesperson told edie: “With our focus on delivering on the objectives contained in the BrewDog Blueprint, which is unique to us and built hand in hand with our team, we have decided to step aside from our B Corp certification for the time being.
“Though we remain committed to the values upheld by B-Lab, we believe our business is currently best served by focussing on the Blueprint, as well as very specific sustainability targets related to our Lost Forest project and the continued ramp-up of our anaerobic digestion facility.
“To that end, we were delighted that last month, to have been awarded certification as a Carbon Negative Company by Positive Planet, highlighting the huge work we are doing in this area, and which is central to our ethos as a business.
“The current crisis has taught us that we need to be laser-focused on those areas of our business that deliver the most real terms value – that means the Blueprint and all that entails, in particular our commitment to our three core pillar of people, beer, planet, but also on making the operational changes that will enable us to get through the current financial crisis, while maintaining our commitment to demonstrable sustainability initiatives.”
B Lab confirmed that BrewDog is no longer certified but was unable to provide further comment.
Toast Ale’s co-founder and chief operating officer Louisa Ziane wrote on LinkedIn that BrewDog’s initial certification as a B Corp and subsequent scandals surrounding the company “created huge controversy for B Corp and was an unwelcome distraction for the businesses genuinely working to create more sustainable, regenerative business models”.
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