There’s a fascinating Advertising Age feature that shines the spotlight on Brown-Forman’s new workplace policies.
If the company name doesn’t sound familiar, it should.
Brown-Forman is the Louisville-based distiller of Jack Daniels, and other major liquor brands.
So, what’s so novel about B-F’s new workplace program? It’s centered on making teetotaling employees feel included in the company’s social programs!
So, for example, while the average cafeteria menu in the company’s Bourbon Street Cafe includes Old Forrester marinated flank steak and a cocktail make from Woodford Reserve, Southern Comfort and orange and pineapple juices, there are also non-alcoholic beverages from which to choose (BTW, how could anyone possibly function after a lunch of flank steak and Jack?).
The teetotalers program is part of an overall Employee Resource Group diversity program that’s aimed at making various B-F work groups feel more at home. Those groups include:
– Boomers (Stop the presses! I’m finally a member of a minority!)
– Young professionals
This is a noble cause for which B-F deserves a ton of credit. But, it also begs the question: Why would a teetotaler work for a liquor marketer in the first place? Talk about entering the belly of the beast. It’s akin to:
– An atheist working at the Vatican
– A Yankee fan selling cotton candy at Fenway Park
– Yours truly serving as Sir Martin Sorrell’s aide-de-camp
I’m all for inclusiveness and diversity in the workplace. But, I’m not sure I agree with the lemonade and ginger ale lunchtime options for non-drinkers at a liquor manufacturing company. That’s one toke over the line (to mix metaphors).
If the non-drinking cohort refuses to imbibe, I honestly think they should find employment elsewhere.
There are enlightened workplace cultures and then there’s Brown-Forman’s. In my mind, I’d simply let employees know they’re expected to consume their employer’s product. Period.
There are plenty of other employers in the greater Louisville area and I, for one, would want employees who use my product, and will feel comfortable serving as brand ambassadors in social situations. That’s tough to do when one refuses to even sip a Jack & Coke.
I don’t know about you. But, this is one example of political correctness gone very, very wrong.
Regardless of your feelings, though, let’s all raise our drinks and salute B-F for their other progressive efforts at diversity (especially the one earmarking Baby Boomers an important minority).
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Note: Repman will be spending the majority of next week attacking northern Maine’s rugged Mt. Katahdin and cliff climbing along Bar Harbor’s Otter Cliffs. In my absence, various colleagues will be contributing guest columns. And do post comments about their blogs. We’ve got some real beauts scheduled for your reading pleasure.