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Be the Change Virtual Job Fair Expands to Wine, Beer, and Spirits Industries

Registration is open now for the virtual job fair on April 22.
by Jess Lander
April 21, 2021

The second Be the Change Job Fair, dedicated to creating more diverse and equitable workplaces in the beverage alcohol industry, will take place virtually on April 22, 2021. Candidate registration is now open “to all” and the free, four-hour event, which has space for up to 2,400 jobseekers, has expanded this go around from the wine world to include beer and spirits as well.

The first Be the Change Job Fair, which took place last December, was wine-job focused simply because all four founders—Cara Bertone, Lia Jones, Philana Bouvier, and Rania Zayyat—have wine-centric backgrounds. But as word spread, Be the Change started receiving inquiries about expanding to beer and spirits. Not wanting to pivot too quickly on their first-ever job fair, they decided to save the expansion for the next one. This time, they’re ready and have big-name exhibitors in the beer and spirits industries like Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Bacardi USA, Boston Beer Company, New Belgium Brewing, and Sierra Nevada.

With the expansion, they’ve doubled their exhibitor count to just over 40. On the wine side, Constellation Brands, Jackson Family Wines, Moët Hennessy, Total Wine, WSET, and more have signed on to participate. The December job fair had about 20 exhibitors with a total of roughly 950 open positions. For the April fair, Be the Change expects there to be between 1,500 to 2,000 job openings that cover all facets of the industries, from inventory management to marketing to production.

The job fair will also feature a handful of live discussions (with ASL interpreters) by industry professionals, like “Age is Just a Number” with Julia Coney of Black Wine Professionals and “Capitalism versus Humanity” with Tahiirah Habibi of Hue Society.

Be the Change Co-founder Cara Bertone said that the inclusion of beer and spirits has drawn even more interest outside of alcohol. “People are reaching out from tea companies, sports drinks companies—not even alcohol-related, but beverage-related,” she said. “It’s awesome that people are thinking about this type of job fair outside of this industry. This could break into way more other pieces across the consumer package goods industry at large.”

While at its core, the fair is a vehicle to bring more diversity into the alcohol beverage industry, Be the Change is also on a mission to create real, lasting, and intentional change within organizations. Oftentimes, Bertone explained, companies simply try to hit a target number of diverse employees and then don’t work to ensure that those candidates feel welcome and valued to stay for the long haul.

“The idea for us is two-fold. The more people with a diverse background that come into the industry and feel welcome by nature and default will bring their friends and family into the industry with them. Then those people can potentially market to a different consumer base and make the industry more well-rounded,” she said.

“We’re also working with executive teams of exhibitors to have best practices and put their best intentions forward in an active way, not just a verbal way. It’s great a lot of organizations have put quotes about diversity policies on their websites, but are they doing that? Believing that? We’re working with diverse candidates, but also organizations at the top level to make sure they’re introducing initiatives that are promoting inclusive culture and behaviors.”

The job fair will kick off with a discussion on Executive DE&I Insights and Actions which will address existing gaps and then best practices and necessary actions for creating a more inclusive industry going forward. Moreover, all exhibitors will be asked to sign a pledge committing to implicit bias training for their employees. Bertone called it “a living document of the things we’re trying to hold ourselves accountable for our diverse talent.”

At the first fair, 85 to 90 percent of the roughly 400 job seekers had 5 to 10 years of experience, so this time around, Be the Change has partnered with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to help recruit more applicants at the entry level. The nation’s largest organization exclusively representing Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Thurgood Marshall has been working to get word of the job fair out to recent December graduates and those graduating this May. “We really want to drive entry-level talent to come in and change the face of the industry and help drive it into a new era,” said Bertone.

Be the Change is also sending out a candidate survey prior to the job fair to help exhibitors better understand how they can appeal to diverse candidates. “The idea of the survey is, do we know as an industry what diverse talent wants to see in an organization to feel welcome and feel like they want to grow with an organization? Is it as simple as having a diversity statement on your website? Is it gender-neutral bathrooms? Is it having your voice heard?” said Bertone, who added that she’s especially eager to see the responses from the new college graduates.

“They have no background knowledge, no preconceived notions, and they’re not bitter after working in the industry for five years. It’ll give exhibitors a glimpse of either ‘We’re way off the mark and we need to catch up,’ or ‘We’re doing awesome, but here are some things we can tweak.’”

After the fair is over, Be the Change asks that candidates continue to keep in touch and update the organization on their job opportunities so that they can in turn make sure the companies are following through with their intentions. “The hope is to actually follow these candidates through their lifetime,” said Bertone, “to really understand how they felt the work was, did they feel included, did they feel like they were part of a team.”

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