Newly minted Boston Globe business columnist Shirley Leung has quite the provocative column today on Jim Koch, co-founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Co. From the headline—“Boston Beer gives women cold shoulder”—on down, it’s an indictment of Koch for having but one woman on the company’s board: his wife, Cynthia Fisher. Fisher is a business success in her own right, with an MBA from Harvard (like Koch) and several business start-ups to her credit. Nevertheless:
Fisher arrived on the board after Jim Koch’s father, Charles, passed away in 2011; the elder Koch, a brewmaster, had served on the board since the company went public in 1995. Jim Koch said he has approached other female candidates in the past, but they were too busy.
Too busy? Too busy to make about $250,000 in cash and stock options — and let’s assume a bottomless mug of beer?
Koch started bringing Fisher to board dinners so everybody could get used to the idea of working with the chairman’s wife. Of course, she was always a shoo-in, if for no other reason than Koch, as the sole Class B stockholder, controls five of the eight board seats, according to securities filings.
Whatever your opinion on the right number of male-to-female inhabitants of C-suites and boardrooms, Leung’s column is worth a read (as are the comments that follow the online addition, which, more or less, take her to task). The column got me to thinking of the many women who’ve played a vital role in the rise of the American craft beer movement, going back to at least the 1970s, women who are often left out of the story arc, even in those myriad women-discover-craft-beer features (which are inevitably part of the problem, as they use as their starting points the false notion that women are new to craft beer and vice versa).
Names like Suzy Stern, Jane Zimmermann, Judy Ashworth, Nancy Crosby, Shirley Coury, Nancy Ponzi, Karen Geary, Rhonda Kallman, and others should ring more bells than they do in the minds of craft-beer consumers and connoisseurs. (And, no, I’m not going to spell out what each did—that’s your homework.)
· Boston Beer Gives Women Cold Shoulder [Globe]