Investing in Social Sustainability is Essential to Create Long-term Value for the Communities We Serve

According to the 2023 Global Communication Report, corporate reputation has never been more important, nor more fragile. In an era where corporations are navigating a polarized world and economic uncertainty, while employees expect them to respond to social issues and consumers demand more accountability, building trust is essential and must be continuously nurtured.

With growing scrutiny around ESG (environmental, social and governance), it is crucial for corporations to create long-term value to address the issues that matter most to their business, their stakeholders and their consumers. As a beverage alcohol company, this is the approach we’ve taken at Diageo in developing our Society 2030: Spirit of Progress ESG plan, which takes into consideration a range of social and environmental external trends shaping our operating landscape and alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Our plan is made up of 25 ambitious targets and is focused on three core pillars that are most material to our business: promote responsible alcohol consumption, champion a culture of inclusivity and diversity, and invest in a sustainable business and supply chain.

For Diageo, investing in sustainable growth means supporting and empowering the communities where we operate, source and sell. We focus on programs and partners that have a measurable impact on building human and social capital in the education and hospitality sectors – while authentically reflecting our diverse consumer base.

In the past two years we have invested over $11.75 million in 29 Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions through an endowment program to address educational inequities and support career pipeline opportunities for historically underrepresented groups.

It has been widely reported the U.S. is soon expected to become a majority-minority nation. Despite the shifting demographics, the disparities in our sector have led Diageo to design programs to develop diverse talent for the hospitality industry. Our Learning Skills for Life program is an industry-leading effort that provides job readiness, employability skills and training, with a focus on women, veterans, second-chance and ethnically underrepresented workers.

Recognizing alcohol industry entrepreneurs and executives do not reflect the diversity of our nation, in 2021 Diageo became an anchor investor in Pronghorn, a standalone business venture to cultivate the next generation of Black entrepreneurs, executive leaders, and founders within the spirits industry. While Black Americans represent 12% of today’s consumers and make up 7.8% of the sector’s labor force, the industry is inequitably balanced from an employment and ownership perspective. To address these disparities, we are building capacity for individuals and entrepreneurs and have invested in 13 Black-owned spirits brands through Pronghorn in less than one year – aiming to invest in 57 brands over the next 10 years, generating $2.4 billion in economic value for the Black community.

To ensure that the purpose of our products prioritizes the safety and best interest of our consumers, we advocate moderation for those adults who choose to drink and address harmful uses of alcohol.

As part of our efforts to explore innovative ways to deliver our message, in 2022 we established the Multicultural Consortium for Responsible Drinking (MCRD) in partnership with key Black, Latino and Native American law enforcement, community, faith-based and media organizations. Our work in this space aims to increase awareness on the risks of alcohol-related harm and provide education about responsible alcohol consumption.

While we continue educating people through platforms such as “Wrong Side of the Road” to stigmatize impaired driving, we also work with not-for-profit groups such as to further initiatives on illegal and irresponsible behaviors. Through our DRINKiQ platform, we provide information about alcohol and its effects, empowering people to make the right choices about alcohol. We leverage the influence of our brands and partners, such as Major League Soccer and the National Football League, to connect with consumers through responsible drinking campaigns – reaching over 300 million people in the past two fiscal years across North America.

As corporations look to drive trust and accountability through their ESG strategies, it is essential to focus on developing meaningful partnerships and stay connected to the communities where they source, sell and operate. For Diageo, investing in social sustainability to create long-term value for the communities we serve will continue to be a priority.

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