AB InBev is taking action within our company, with our brands and across our value chain to be a more diverse and inclusive company, where everyone feels comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work. As the leading global brewer, we also have an important role in brewing change in the industry to better reflect the diverse perspectives of the millions of consumers who enjoy our products. There's more to be done, and we are committed to being transparent about our progress and to hold ourselves accountable. Together we can create a better, more equal world for all, and we're proud to share with you here perspectives from our colleagues who are leading the way.
For Jorge Garcia, Director of Craft Operations at AB InBev, diversity and inclusion is a way of life. “I believe in humanity which to me means embracing differences so we can connect with one another,” he says. “It's a priority personally and professionally because it aligns to my values and is the right thing to do.”
He credits his mentors who ‘created a sense of belonging' for helping grow his career at AB InBev by challenging him, giving honest feedback and advocating for him “Now I have an obligation to do the same for others,” he adds.
Why is diversity and inclusion needed in the beer industry?
The beer industry needs to be as diverse as the populations where we are doing business. In my opinion, this will be the only way to ensure companies and brands truly connect with all consumers. Some only target certain consumers and leave money on the table, while others want to reach out to under-tapped markets, but don't have employees with the diverse perspectives needed to connect with those consumers. We in the beer industry pride ourselves on being an important contributor to our local communities but we need greater diversity and inclusion efforts if we want to reach everyone while continuing to add value to the business.
How are you brewing change?
In my last role our leaders embarked on an inspiring journey to improve diversity at ZX Ventures (AB InBev's venture capital group). The conversations were never easy. They pushed us out of our comfort zones and we became aware of our blind spots and biases. I learned so much from that experience, for example, I began hiring more brewing talent from outside the company to bring fresh points of view that made our team stronger. To be more inclusive, I always give every person I encounter throughout the workday a sincere smile and greeting. This might seem like a small thing, but I find this simple act helps us make connections with people and makes us all feel like we belong.
To change the beer industry we need to ensure everyone has access to the same opportunities, while recognizing that we are not all starting from the same place, and making commitments to address these imbalances. It's for these reasons I joined the board of the newly formed non-profit organization, The Michael James Jackson Foundation, which provide technical education, scholarships, mentoring and facilitates career advancement for people of color in brewing and distilling in the US.
What is your advice for others who want to change their company or industry?
We all can do our part by actively recruiting individuals from underrepresented groups and making them feel welcomed and valued once they've been hired. We need to have an active interest in their development and give them opportunities to grow by providing mentorships and sponsorships. We want everyone to be inspired to go to work, we want them to feel secure at work and we want them to be proud of the work they do.
At the end of the day, diversity and inclusion requires every single one of us to be courageous, lean in, find solutions and hold our leaders accountable. It's just too important - we must do it now.
Interested in hearing more about brewing change in the beer industry? See our interview with Tiffanie Walton, Director of Tech Talent and Development at Anheuser-Busch.