Supporting The Local Community Through IDEA Principals

Raft Brew Labs is about more than beer. 

The Calgary-based company that runs a quality control lab for Canada’s craft brew industry is largely focused on ensuring that the beverages consumers enjoy are free of harmful micro- bacteria and safe to drink. 

However, company founder Euan Thomson, who is also the chief executive officer (CEO) of Raft Brew Labs, has always sought a greater purpose from running a business. Since launching the company in early 2020, Mr. Thomson has focused on using his position in the local community to help those less fortunate than himself. 

“Our approach has not been to move fast and break things. We certainly don’t want to break people,” he says. “Rather we are trying to use Raft Brew Labs to influence the local business community and encourage it to do good.”

Doing good means applying principles of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA) both internally within Raft Brew Labs and when working with a diverse roster of clients that includes breweries big and small across Canada. 

“For us, IDEA principles mean having respect for people of all backgrounds and sexuality,” says Mr. Thomson. “Businesses have a great platform to speak to other businesses, the public and governments. We recognize the opportunity at hand, and we want to have resonance here in the Calgary community.” 

Thomson goes on to say that IDEA principles are brought to bear in Raft Brew Labs hiring practices and that staff at the company are encouraged to apply the principles in their daily work. 

“It’s about creating a culture of respect and sharing knowledge,” says Mr. Thomson. 

More broadly, Raft Brew Labs has developed a handbook that serves as a guide for the company and its IDEA principles. Additionally, the company is involved with facilitating safe spaces for drug users in downtown Calgary and helping to dispel the stigma that often accompanies addiction.

Raft Brew Labs engaged the Calgary business community to support an overdose prevention site with food, coffee, tents, and portable heaters. They ran a warming centre for drug users and fed 60 people for a day in -35-degree Celsius weather. This act brought the community together and created a safe space that empowered people. 

“Some things are bigger than business and bigger than money,” says Mr. Thomson. “In the end, it’s about standing by your principles and what you believe in.”

Going forward, Raft Brew Labs hopes to expand beyond the one laboratory it currently runs in Calgary and reach more brewers nationwide. It is also in the process of rolling out health and dental benefits to its employees.

Ultimately, Raft Brew Labs hopes to take its business and drug policy advocacy work across the border and into the United States.

“Being an example and leader in the community is our core mission,” says Mr. Thomson. “To us, that’s the real benefit of running a business.” 

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