Does the fintech industry have a drinking problem?
To create an inclusive workplace, one has to cater to the needs of all employees. If you make the effort to provide alcohol, you should make as much of an effort to provide alcohol-free options, beyond water and soft drinks, to make everyone feel included.
The number of people choosing to drink less alcohol, or stop altogether, is on the rise. An estimated 6.5 million people in the UK took part in ‘Dry January’ earlier this year. That’s almost double the number who participated just a year before, according to data from Alcohol Change UK.
There are of course lots of different reasons why people choose to drink less, from general health and wellness to religion, which is why we need to consider making provisions for alcohol-free alternatives to support our diversity and inclusion efforts.
Another key factor driving this trend is the new generation of employees entering the workforce.
A report from Berenberg Research found that respondents in their teens and early 20s were drinking over 20% less per capita than Millennials, who in turn drank less than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers did at the same age. The percentage of young people who do not drink any alcohol at all has risen by over 30%.
For a lot of employers, providing alcohol is thought of as a way to celebrate wins, get people together or point to as a perk to attract employees. I remember my first visit to a WeWork; the unlimited beer on tap was one of the main selling points. Ten years later, it doesn’t even feature in their sales material. The world has moved on.
As the founder of a fintech I was quite proud of our champagne fridge and made the mistake of overlooking the non-drinkers. It took a negative Glassdoor review to make me see the problem. I made sure we stocked up on a comprehensive range of alcohol-free drinks. When we celebrated our $30 million Series B, I gave all employees the choice of a bottle of champagne or an alcohol-free cocktail kit and to my surprise, a quarter of all employees went with the alcohol-free option. When you give people a choice, they feel included.
There has never been a better time to stock up on alcohol-free alternatives. The market is being flooded with alcohol-free spirits, beers and wines, with new options being launched every month.
According to a new report from the market research firm IWSR, consumption of these products is expected to increase 31% by 2024. Diageo recently acquired the alcohol-free gin brand Seedlip, Heineken spent $50 million to launch its ‘0.0’ brand, and AB InBev has pledged to make no- and low-alcohol drinks 20% of its worldwide production by 2025.
While ‘Sober October’ might be drawing to a close, as we return to the office and start planning for the festive season, you have an opportunity to break the cycle of bad old habits.
Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution, and give everyone a chance to feel included.
About the author
Christer Holloman is the chairman of Fintech Finishers, which was set up to raise awareness, inspire action and introduce accountability for more diversity and inclusion in the fintech industry.