Henry Fox from Irish Tech News interviews Bob Coggins, co-founder of the craft beer brewery, the White Hag. The White Hag is the first brewery in Sligo in over 100 years, who are hosting their annual Hagstravaganza craft beer festival this week. We discuss his business, the upcoming Hagstravaganza event, travel, and the culture and lifestyle in Sligo.
Hagstravaganza, Brewery Festival, White Hag Brewery’s Bob Coggins
Bob Coggins is a co-founder of the White Hag Brewery. Bob originally got his start in marketing but changed career paths to get into the brewing business. Craft beers and brewing being a large part of his lifestyle, he wanted to bring this to others. Bob enjoys cycling and the laid-back lifestyle of Sligo, though he originally was based in Dublin.
As we prepare to have 1500 of our closest friends, supporters, customers and community back in Ballymote for our birthday, we felt it is a good time to give you some insight into what we have been doing to progress our team and our culture here in The White Hag.
A short 18 months ago a set of personal political opinions and views were interpreted as representing the views of the brewery and the wider team. What followed was a few months of reflection, discussion and rebuilding within our team. We realised that the inherent beliefs and values of the ownership team and the majority of staff were not apparent to our community in our communications or actions.
With the assistance of many friends within the beer industry and in professional services who specialise in creating open, fair and welcoming workplaces, we have worked to address many issues which arose over those months. We spoke to many individuals and groups who were affected by the events, and took all feedback & input we received.
We undertook a formal investigation by an external 3rd party, Edger HR, to ensure we dealt with any issues that may have arisen in the past, that had come to our attention through direct contact or by conversation online and elsewhere. The investigation pursued all issues and claims, and ultimately found we needed to focus on developing a culture of openness and inclusion across the brewery. While the investigation has concluded, we still welcome any input and feedback on the above process, via contact details below.
Building on this, with the help of Under the Rainbow and Edger HR, we spoke to our current and past employees, and partners of the business. Our team focused on defining policies and workplace practices built on respect and understanding. We focused on understanding how we explore and advocate for openness, fairness and diversity in our recruitment, communications and our community.
Over the intervening period there have been many changes to the team at the brewery. We are proud that we are recruiting new team members based on talent, ambition and potential. New team members come from a diverse range of backgrounds and culture, and bring a wealth of experiences.
Training & education initiatives, support for flexible working arrangements that accommodate family commitments, and recognition of the positive input brought by those with unique experiences are just some of the practices we have introduced and supported. All staff and management have signed up to an agreed code of conduct defined as part of our employment contract, that was built by the team with help from professionals in this space. In addition we’re trying damn hard to make it fun again – as Brian repeatedly says ‘It’s beer, it’s supposed to be fun!!’
We aimed to fulfill a mission we set for ourselves last February when we committed that ‘We’ll not rest until people of every persuasion can view The White Hag as a business and brewery you would feel comfortable working in, visiting and supporting’. We believe we’re getting there, and we hope you feel that too. The work is not done, it is continuous and we hope you can support us and be part of the journey as we go.
Over the Hagstravaganza weekend you’ll see a lot of new faces in our brewery team. We’ll all have lanyards or name tags. Take the time to say hi and shoot the breeze, we all love the chat!
To drop us a line in relation to anything contained in this post, you can email Bob@thewhitehag.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Henry Fox is a freelance journalist and student at Coventry University in the UK, currently interning at Irish Tech News. Originally hailing from Limerick, Henry has a passion for all things nerdy, from emerging computer technology to cult movies.
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