It’s been a tumultuous couple of weeks for The World’s 50 Best Bars, since naming their 2019 Industry Icon award as Charles Schumann.
Schumann was announced as the 2019 Icon at an awards ceremony in London on 3 October, with almost immediate backlash from the bar community. Negative reactions expressed outrage that Schumann had been chosen, because of infamous comments he has made in the past, including that there’s “no place for a woman behind the bar after 3pm.”
In the days following the announcement, social media was ablaze with people condemning the choice. The hashtag #womenbehindthebarafter3 gained significant traction, as venues and industry personalities around the world spoke out against the award.
Less than a week after being named Industry Icon, Schumann returned the award with a statement on his Munich based bar’s Facebook page, Schumann’s Bar Am Hofgarten.
“In light of the controversy surrounding my person and the awarding of The World´s 50 Best Bars – Industry Icon Award 2019, I am hereby returning the award. I don‘t want it anymore.”
50 Best issued their own social media statement to accept the return of the award the same day, the first time they had spoken publicly since the controversy unfolded. They also confirmed there would now be no award recipient for 2019.
The post included: “50 Best takes final responsibility for awarding the winner based on the number of votes cast. It does have a vetting process in place for its awardees, although on this occasion it was unaware of these historical comments made by Mr Schumann.”
Response to this post was far from positive, with many comments criticising the organisation for its days of silence and failing to address the core of the issue.
Two days later, 50 Best issued another statement, pledging to do better. It read:
“50 Best would like to take the opportunity to apologise for the hurt caused by our announcement of Charles Schumann as the recipient of the Industry Icon Award 2019. As an organisation, 50 Best absolutely condemns misogyny, marginalisation and sexism of any form.”
“Since Mr Schumann’s comments were brought to our attention, we have been working hard behind the scenes to find the appropriate way to proceed. We are reassessing every element of our voting structure and processes and will be looking to create a forum that welcomes input from all areas of the bar community. Please do feel free to contact us directly by email with your thoughts and suggestions.”
“We are also announcing that for The World’s 50 Best Bars 2020, we will ensure that our voting Academy has a 50/50 gender split – an action we implemented for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants this year. Inclusivity is at the core of 50 Best’s value system and in the future, we will work harder to ensure that our processes are fully representative of the industry that we very much consider ourselves a part of – and hold close to our hearts.”