SIBA pledges to create stricter guidelines against sexist beer labelling

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has pledged to put discrimination at the top of its agenda as the industry body plans to “formalise” guidelines against sexist beer advertising.

The beer group has confirmed it plans to establish a Marketing Code of Practice which it hopes will “give further guidance to breweries” on how to advertise their products as industry leaders strive to make the sector more inclusive.

In addition SIBA will hold a panel discussion and seminar titled “Marketing beer responsibly – Sexism, discrimination and branding in the beer industry” at BeerX, the group’s trade show taking place in Liverpool next month.

Jaega Wise, head brewer of Wild Car Brewery and SIBA’s newly elected South East director, will join a panel of industry leaders including Exe Valley’sGuy Sheppard, beer writer Jane Peyton, and Kay Perry of alcohol regulatory group Portman.

The seminar will be chaired by SIBA director Carolyn Uphill, who said that members are “strongly urged to attend the and contribute their thoughts and opinions on this important issue.”

Wise said in an emailed statement sent on Monday 26 February that current SIBA members — who range from brewers to suppliers and retailers —  “might wish to consider all their current branding, even where long standing, and make plans to change any which might be considered inappropriate by today’s consumers.”

Beers which fall foul of SIBA’s proposed new guidelines could face disqualification from trade events.

“Ideally members take action sooner rather than later so that they do not face the costs and adverse publicity of having to withdraw or change a brand at short notice.”

SIBA director Carolyn Uphill said the the new Marketing code of Practice is an opportunity for the organisation to pave the way for “moving away from any past discriminatory materials in branding and labelling.”

Portman Group, which acts as a regulatory body for advertising and marketing within the beer industry, does not currently account for discrimination in its guidelines, but is due to review its Codes of Practice later this year, according to chief executive John Timothy.

“Any additional guidance to ensure alcohol marketing is responsible is to be welcomed,” he said, “and we look forward to continuing discussions.”

Wise has been vocal in her opposition to institutionalised sexism in the beer industry, calling for a ban on overtly sexualised labels on beer pumps and bottles from festivals organised by SIBA and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

Speaking at the Brewers Congress in London last November, Wise said she wanted to survey female drinkers to see what was and was not acceptable.

Wise said there are “a whole list of things the industry can do,” she said at the time. Wise said she has come up with three practical ways to improve the status of women in the beer industry in 2018, including banning sexist beer labels, stricter advertising standards and a call for more information about female brewers.

Tom Stainer, CAMRA’s head of communications, said the industry body also welcomes further regulation coming from SIBA, adding that it’s own volunteers “have been working on strengthening CAMRA’s own policy in this area since last year.

“CAMRA already has policies and guidelines in place to promote inclusivity and tolerance, including its Code of Conduct and Volunteers’ Charter. Most recently, our National Executive issued a clear statement that it does not condone discriminatory marketing of beers and ciders and will not accept products marketed in this way at festivals or in its competitions. We are looking to embed these values into activities across the organisation.”

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