Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 8, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Labatt Brewing Company Limited was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2019) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019) :
- Labatt Breweries keeps employees connected and up to date on company developments through monthly town hall-style "Stein Sessions" in the pub, quarterly pub gatherings for business updates, and an annual National Commercial Conference (a 4-day event with close to 1,000 employees in attendance)
- Along with a number of responsible drinking and international environmental awareness initiatives, Labatt Breweries manages the unique "Better Together" initiative to provide generous grants for individuals and families across Canada -- grants range from $200 to $4,000 and helps provide essentials for those living in need, from food and clothing to access to paramedical services
- Labatt Breweries head office employees work in the renovated historic Terminal Building in the centre of Queens Quay on Toronto's waterfront -- designed by renowned architect Eberhard Zeidler, the office features hotel spaces for visiting employees, a beer training facility and a 20,000 square foot John Labatt Hall, with table hockey, dart boards, multiple big screen televisions, various board games, gaming consoles and Muskoka chairs overlooking Lake Ontario
Employees help brew a better world at Labatt
As Senior Brand Manager for two high-end products from Labatt Breweries of Canada, Megan Kates has an impressive job description. It's part of her responsibilities for Stella Artois and Corona beers that she and her team look after the brands' better-world initiatives. For Stella Artois, it's a campaign to provide water access to communities with little; for Corona, it's about cleaning up the beach and ensuring that it's sustainable for future generations.
"To have those kinds of initiatives be such a big part of my job makes me very happy and really proud to work at this company," says Kates, who has been with Labatt since she was a post-graduate student. "It just gives you a real sense of accomplishment and impact in the world."
Bringing people together for a better world is a theme that is dear to employees of Labatt, and they're able to do just that through several programs. In one, during natural disasters, production is quickly switched from beer to water; since 2012, Labatt has donated 450,000 cans of water to communities in need. "We've been operating in Canada for over 170 years now," says Amanda Lynn, Vice-President of People. "We plan to be here for the next 100 years and our dream is to make the communities where we operate better."
In addition, there are World Environment days, golf classics to raise funds for physically challenged children, Road Safety days, during which colleagues from across the country meet with their communities to discuss responsible drinking and ways to reduce impaired and distracted driving, and much more. "We're truly focusing on initiatives to better communities and the world around us," says Kates.
The other themes at Labatt are ownership and opportunity. To facilitate those, Labatt, which is part of the worldwide company Anheuser-Busch InBev, has instituted a unique global management trainee program. For 10 months, those in the program live out of a suitcase and travel around the country learning about all areas of the company. "Your knowledge is going to be a mile wide," Lynn says, "because you're seeing everything from the brewery operations to logistics to sales and marketing, as well as finance, legal and people."
One employee engagement program, The Ideas Process, empowers people at any level and in any part of the company to bring forward their ideas and see them through to the end result. Ideas can be about anything from ways to save energy or water, tweaking the packaging material, diverting waste from landfill and more. "Our frontline employees have the best ideas because they're the closest to the product, to the processes, to the consumers," says Lynn. "At the end, they have that recognition and they know that's their legacy - how they've impacted Labatt, how they've impacted the communities."
Seeking out available opportunities and taking them to the next level is practically a company policy at Labatt. It's not about the amount of work, explains Lynn, but the stretch the work demands. "Our CEO believes it takes the same amount of energy to dream big as it does to dream small, so why not dream big," she adds. "It's that constant propelling forward that really has kept me here. Consistent in every area and location I've worked at is this huge sense of ownership that you can seize, aligning with our culture and moving forward with it."
Labatt brews a culture of candor and meritocracy
As part of Labatt Breweries of Canada's Global Management Trainee Program, Eli Ruch spent 10 months travelling across Canada and into the United States, serving four- to six-week rotations everywhere from the brewery in Montreal to field sales in Edmonton and marketing in Toronto. His first permanent position was as Group Manager in the company's Mississauga, Ont. warehouse, and now Ruch is National Demand Planning Manager at Labatt's head office in Toronto. This all transpired in four years.
"The sheer breadth of ownership that this company affords is impressive," says Amanda Lynn, Vice-President of People, "because the pace at which you can grow and be challenged is quite accelerated compared to other career paths or companies. And it's not only the volume of work. With the opportunities we offer, it's also the stretch of the work."
Most of the employees who work in Labatt's headquarters started in entry-level positions in the field. "When you start there, you collect experiences, build relationships and enhance your capabilities, and all of that comes together in headquarters," says Lynn. "It's unique in terms of the different relationships you can leverage."
Indeed, those working at headquarters, like Ruch, collaborate with employees at six breweries, several regional sales offices, three craft breweries, two cider houses and a host of other facilities. That translates into a deep understanding of all the different functions that create Labatt's products and bring them to market. "No matter who you are, diversity of opinion is extremely important," says Ruch, "so all voices, all ideas, are encouraged and valued from the start."
Labatt prides itself on being a flat, informal organization. In the Toronto office, all 160 employees - from entry-level accountant to vice-president - sit together on one floor. There are no offices or closed-off views. Jeans are encouraged when employees are not in business meetings. "Sitting together really supports our culture of candor and meritocracy and informality," says Lynn. "We don't need walled offices or to be tucked away out of sight of our teams. Working together really fosters our transparent work environment."
A pub at the Toronto office allows for larger gatherings, including a quarterly "Live at the Pub" session, led by Labatt's president. But it is also a place where employees can meet for celebrations, training sessions and informal get-togethers. "Building a real feeling of camaraderie among employees is important," says Lynn. "Our pub is a great venue for them to socialize and strengthen those relationships."
The company is also committed to the community. Through its Disaster Relief Program, for example, production can be switched from beer to water. Since 2012, Labatt has donated 450,000 cans of water to communities in need. An annual charity golf classic raises funds for physically challenged children, and on World Environment Day employees get outside to clean up the communities where they work.
When Ruch was learning about corporate culture in university, he didn't think much of it. "I thought that a lot of companies had put a lot of words on paper, but it didn't really mean much," he says. However, it was immediately clear to him that that wasn't the case at Labatt. "Everyone here is passionate about the company, about results," he adds. "Meritocracy is extremely important, and it's acted upon. You see it every day."
To Lynn, the culture is what keeps the company at its best. "It's not just something that's posted on the wall," she says. "It drives how we talk to each other, how we interact in meetings, how we sit in an open-office layout. It's our culture that sets us apart."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 8, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Labatt Brewing Company Limited was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2018):
- Labatt Breweries manages a comprehensive internship program for university students across all departments which includes participation in "beer school", to learn how the company's products are made, individual development plans, access to a dedicated intern speaker series, the 10 Principles Challenge competition (which provides opportunities to interact and compete with interns throughout the North America Zone, coaching from senior executives, and an end-of-term project presentation to senior managers
- Labatt Breweries created an expansive 10-month Global Management Trainee Program for undergraduate students -- the program includes rotations through various business segments throughout North America, collaboration with innovation teams to "build a brand" beginning from design, production to launching a new beer prototype, access to senior leaders at Q&As and updates with the country president and global CEO
- Labatt Breweries maintains an active on-campus presence year-round through "Campus Ambassadors" who facilitate individual invitations to specific events such as rotational recruitment sessions, "Beer School", information on beer and food pairings as well as tastings, and a deep dive into environmental sustainability and Better World -- managers and senior leaders are also present at Labatt recruitment events to connect with students face-to-face
At Labatt, community involvement is part of the brew
A charitable spirit of giving back to the community has been part of the culture of Labatt Breweries of Canada since the earliest days of the 170-year-old company and continues to attract young employees well into the 21st century.
In 1859, just a few years after he'd established his brewery in London, Ont., John Kinder Labatt donated 1,000 pounds of flour to help his fellow citizens in the middle of a devastating economic recession. In 2013, Irina Shapiro left a job at a securities firm to join the Ontario sales team at Labatt's Toronto office because of what the company stood for in her community and the sense of pride she saw in Labatt employees.
"Everything about the company lines up with my sense of values. As a young employee coming in, you see how much can be done to help the community," says Shapiro, who is now Manager of Financial Planning in Labatt's commercial finance team.
"We're encouraged by our managers to step up and contribute to community projects. For example, I've been involved with the Yonge Street Mission and the Toronto Island cleanup following the flooding in the spring of 2017.
"And the company always listens when we come up with ideas," she continues. "A particular interest of mine is mental health. I was able to come forward with an idea that was very successful."
Shapiro and her team took part in CAMH One Brave Night for Mental Health, a Canada-wide challenge to share one night to inspire hope for Canadians living with mental illness. Labatt matched the amount the team raised and between them they contributed $14,000 to Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
As part of Anheuser-Busch InBev, Labatt shares a corporate dream "to bring people together for a better world." Shapiro's project was an ideal fit with this philosophy, according to Agostino De Gasperis, Labatt's Vice President, People.
"Charitable giving and being part of the community are part of our better world dream," De Gasperis says. "More personally, everyone wants to belong to something bigger than themselves. This is fundamental for young people and how they see themselves, so it's a win-win. It's very special to see the camaraderie that develops when people get behind something like Irina's CAMH initiative."
In addition to supporting employee-led projects, Labatt has a number of corporate programs aimed at improving the community, such as Labatt Better Together, Labatt Disaster Relief Program and commitments to environmental and responsible drinking initiatives.
Labatt Better Together, created in 2016, provides basic essentials and support services to Canadian individuals and families in need, helping to reduce poverty in communities across the country.
Since 2013, through its Disaster Relief Program, Labatt has donated more than 350,000 cans of safe drinking water to communities in six provinces whose water supply was affected by a significant disaster, such as the Fort McMurray wildfire of 2016. The company packages and maintains a constant supply of fresh canned water and uses its distribution network to deliver the water to Canadians and emergency responders in need.
Along with other Anheuser-Busch InBev companies around the world, Labatt also sets aggressive targets for reducing the environmental impact of its operations by reducing water and energy consumption and diverting waste from landfills.
Meanwhile, the company works to encourage moderate drinking through a variety of resources, awareness campaigns and support programs, including Budweiser Good Sport, Labatt Family Talk About Drinking, Global Be(er) Responsible Day, and Partners for Safer Communities.
"It's all part of how we live and breathe, how we operate as a company," says De Gasperis, while Shapiro adds, "It's an important reason I like to work here -- the sense of accomplishment that comes from making an impact in the community."
John Kinder Labatt would approve.
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 18, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Labatt Brewing Company Limited was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2018):
- Labatt's Anheuser-Busch InBev parent company recently announced its commitment to sourcing 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025 -- the impressive goal is to be realized though 75% to 85% purchases of green energy with the balance achieved through onsite power generation -- the target is expected to reduce the company's overall carbon footprint by 30%, which is the equivalent of removing half a million cars from the road
- As a major brewer and part-owner of the The Beer Store and Brewers Distributors Limited, Labatt Breweries helped develop one of the earliest and most successful recycling and reuse programs in Canada, with models replicated by both public and private sector entities -- The Beer Store is also one of the very few retail chains to take back all the packaging it sells, and boasts a 99% recycling rate for industry standard bottles, which are reused an average of 15 times before being recycled into new beer bottles
Employees lead environmental innovation at Labatt
Most of the innovations that enable Labatt Breweries of Canada to meet its ambitious environmental goals, both within its breweries and offices and in the wider community, come from employees.
Though an initiative known as the Ideas Process, which was itself developed by employees almost 20 years ago, everyone who works at Labatt is empowered to suggest improvements that will have a measurable impact on the way their jobs are done.
"We look for large- and small-scale initiatives. Even the smallest and simplest ideas are important. They all add up," says Holly Hurley, Environmental Health and Safety Manager for Labatt's brewery in London, Ont., where the company was founded 170 years ago.
"Tens of thousands of ideas have been generated by this program. It isn't limited to environmental ideas, but many environmental ideas have come from it," adds Scott Durnin, Brewmaster at the London brewery. For example, he cites numerous suggestions from the bottle-washing and powerhouse departments that have brought about more efficient ways of using water, electricity and steam. The results of these innovations are carefully measured and monitored to ensure progress is being made.
Through efforts such as these across its six breweries in Canada, Labatt has reduced water usage by 46 per cent since 2006 and cut total energy consumption by 14 per cent between 2011 and 2016.
The company has also been highly successful in its recycling initiatives, with 99 per cent of its waste now diverted from landfills. Labatt's waste streams include cardboard and byproducts of yeast and grains, which are collected and shipped to companies that reuse them for other products. As well, the alcohol removed from Budweiser Prohibition Brew is repurposed and diverted from the waste stream.
Other innovations include reducing greenhouse gas emissions in transportation through greater use of rail shipments and trucks powered by alternative fuels, and by collaborative shipping to eliminate "empty" miles.
"As a global company we're very committed to reducing energy and utility consumption," says Durnin. Labatt is part of Anheuser-Busch InBev, a multinational brewing and beverage company, which has the stated goal of bringing people together for a better world. It recently announced a commitment to obtain 100 per cent of its purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025.
Each Labatt brewery has an Environmental Committee, with representatives from all departments who meet monthly to share status updates, and at two- to three-day Kaizen events on continuous improvement, employees work together to implement ideas that lead to new standard operating procedures and best practices that are replicated across Canada, North America and globally.
In addition to these many internal environmental initiatives, Labatt employees engage with other organizations to share best practices, and work to improve their local communities.
"One thing I'm most proud of is World Environment Day," says Hurley. "We team up with the City of London and benchmark ourselves against other organizations in the area so we can encourage each other. We report our results for environmental Key Performance Indicators, which makes us accountable. This helps us help others and also enables us to see how they do things.
"At all our breweries we participate in annual cleanups," Hurley adds. "For example, here in London we're in our 18th year with the Thames River cleanup. Our people bring their families and kids to help clean up the river to demonstrate their commitment to the environment and the community. And we work with ReForest London to help meet its goal of planting one million trees and shrubs for a better environment and better health in the city."
Labatt also holds open house events to show how it leads by example and to educate and motivate other companies and the public, all towards the long-term goal of making the world a better place.