Do Startups Have a Drinking Problem?
Sarah Jane Coffey

I responded to this on twitter, but I wanted to elaborate here as well. The company I used to work for LOVED alcohol. Every event was fully stocked with liquor, wine and beer. The fridge was over 60% local craft beers (which Portland has plenty). I would even enjoy one myself occasionally. We were only allowed to drink in the last hour of our shift, but people were constantly drunk in the office. Several nights, the management and some other employees got wildly drunk and took over a conference room. I was there late as part of the support team, and had to listen to them being loud.

I think a lot about sober spaces and have many friends who maintain sobriety, and though I love everyone I worked with at that company, I feel bad that I could never tell my sober friends that it would actually be a safe place to work. I once heard a manager sarcastically say “You should come to the bar with us later, it totally won’t affect your standing in the company if you don’t though.” I know he was probably joking, but it’s a terrible thing to hear, and I don’t think it makes it a safe space for a lot of people.

I left for reasons unrelated to this aspect of the company, and I never felt comfortable bringing it up because I was a relatively new low-level employee and felt like people would take it as me trying to squash the “culture” of the office. It was the first job I had in the startup world as well, and the first time I learned that in order to work in the “fun” and “laid-back” world of startups, you have to be around alcohol constantly.

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