Brown-Forman Corporation’s approach to diversity is comprehensive, focused and driven by the strategic engagement of our Executive Leadership Team (ELT). The entire ELT serves on the company’s Diversity Council, which is chaired by the CEO and meets quarterly to set strategy. This governance structure sends a clear message to the entire organization about the fact the strategic diversity and inclusion management is a very real part of the business of the business. In fact, actively managing diversity, on a continuous basis, is vital because diversity matters as a critical enabler for achieving our strategic intents. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about mergers and acquisitions, routes to the consumer, or interpersonal interactions, effectively managing diversity is crucial to effective implementation of the former two and successful productivity and innovation as it relates to the latter.
As one of the largest American –owned wine and spirits companies, Brown-Forman brings a unique perspective to resource groups that impact the corporate culture. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are a cornerstone of the strategic intent of any Diversity and Inclusion strategy, producing value that benefits both the organization and our employees. For instance, we have a group called SPIRIT, which stands for Showing Pride In Respecting Individual Tastes and it is our non-drinkers group. At first glance, one might assume that a non-drinker’s group is antithetical to the business we are in and yet the group is fully supported by the entire ELT because it is consistent with our responsibility messaging. We are very clear that we never want any employee to feel that they are required to drink in order to be accepted here are Brown-Forman. Additionally, SPIRIT’s existence is consistent with the work we are doing with outside agencies as it relates to our firm beliefs about responsible consumption. Another example is our military ERG called BRAVE, which stands for Brown-Forman Rallying All Veterans to Excellence. This group did some outstanding work by helping in the development of a Retreat Center here in Kentucky where Vets can come to have a sense of inclusion and peace of mind. Currently, vets are committing suicide at alarmingly high rates, on a daily basis, and Brown-Forman was the first corporation to bring a group of employees to the Center in order to help with some of their construction needs. We were fortunate and humbled to have had the opportunity to participate, in some small way, to such a meaningful place of comfort and solitude for our Vets.
I have said this before and will say it repeatedly. I am very fortunate to have an engaged senior management team and that support is reflected in the following comment from our CEO: “Diversity is important on a multitude of levels, but perhaps most important as a vital stimulus for great ideas, and our imaginations are sparked to new heights when we digest a well-articulated and persuasive viewpoint that is different than our own. This is when great ideas are possible.”
Although we have received 100% on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporative Equality Index for the past four consecutive years and we have been recognized by Diversity Inc, in it’s up and comers, category as one of its Top 25 Most Noteworthy Companies for the past three years, I am also very proud of the fact that nearly 30% of our employees are involved with diversity initiatives and their engagement scores are higher than those who are not. This is the basis for critical differentiation within our segment.
- Aramark: Innovating the Everyday through Diversity and Inclusion
- AT&T: Embedding a diverse and inclusive culture
- Bloomberg LP Diversity and Inclusion: A Race Without A Finish Line
- Aon: Sustainable Inclusion Empowering human and economic possibility
- Tavis Smiley and Corporate Diversity Featured in Savoy Summer Issue