Review verdict

BrewDog instigates change after ‘toxic culture’ claims


Punks were accused of ‘selling out’

Maverick brewer and pubs chain BrewDog has instigated a wide range of changes to working practices following a review of its management style.

The company hired consultants Wiser to investigate complaints of a “toxic” culture from former staff which were widely circulated on social media in the summeer.

Wiser said the founders, James Watt and Martin Dickie, “have grown up as leaders in the limelight. By their own admission they are still learning – and that hasn’t delivered a consistent and stable people experience.”

The consultants added: “For some, the ‘punk’ has sold out. The disruptor has become the system.

“BrewDog is renowned for its bold marketing campaigns. Social media has enabled the company to disrupt the market and build an exceptional brand. But when the messages have been challenged or the hyperbole overplayed, people have lost faith and started to challenge Brewdog’s leaders.”

Since the 60 former employees penned their complaints there have been a number of changes including the creation of Employee Representative Groups to give staff a direct say in the direction of the company and the launch of an independently managed Ethics Hotline.

James Watt BrewDog

James Watt: personal responsibility (pic: Terry Murden)

The company has appointed a head of learning and development and introduced leadership and management development training across the business.

There will be support for mental health matters and enhanced quarterly career development reviews.

In a post on LinkedIn, Mr Watt said he took “personal responsibility” for the shortcomings at the company.

Chairman Allan Leighton, former chief executive of Asda, described the review as “the most thorough piece of work” he had seen and was a “bit of a blueprint for how to tackle these things”.

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