‘Celebrating Life Everyday, Everywhere’

If the name of the company does not ring a bell to you, some of Diageo’s iconic brands will: Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Baileys, Tanqueray, Captain Morgan, Guinness… to only name a few.

Diageo produce a collection of over 200 brands – old and new, large and small, global and local – that are enjoyed in more than 180 countries around the world. In 2022, the company is listed on the Times Top 50 employers for Women, demonstrating its commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workplace.

To learn more about Diageo’s culture and some of their ED&I initiatives, we spoke to Jorgie Hunt (Keg Plant Manager) and Alice Schirone (Talent Engagement Specialist).

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?  

Jorgie Hunt: I am the Keg Plant Manager at our Beer Packaging site in Runcorn. I joined Diageo in 2017 on the Supply Graduate Scheme after completing my BSc in Chemistry. I really wanted to find a job that satisfied both my love of the drinks and hospitality industry and paired well with the skills I had developed in my STEM background: problem-solving, decision making and leadership. In addition to my day role, I also co-chair the Supply Chain and Procurement Rainbow Network.

Alice Schirone: I have an HR and Recruitment background and experience working in Italy, Ireland and Scotland. I initially joined Diageo as HR Advisor in Budapest and now look after Diageo Manufacturing recruitment for the Europe Spirits category.

How many sites do you have across Scotland?

AS: Scotland is the home of Diageo’s diverse range of Scotch whiskies. In Scotland, Distilling is responsible for producing over 30 million cases of Diageo’s Scotch whiskies such as Johnnie Walker, J&B and Bell’s every year.

Across Scotland, there are 29 Scotch whisky malt distilleries throughout the Highlands, Speyside, Islay and Lowlands and one grain Scotch whisky distillery. There are ten main warehousing sites, housing our maturing stocks of Scotch whisky, supported by a state-of-the-art cooperage and coppersmiths. Our packaging site in Leven is the largest spirits bottling operation in Europe. Leven (alongside Shieldhall) packages a huge volume of Scotch malt whiskies, white spirits and ready-to-drink brands.

Supply Chain & Manufacturing is key to Diageo’s business.

What are the benefits of joining this part of the business?

AS: 27,775 people work for Diageo and over half of them are in our supply chain. Working in Supply Chain and Manufacturing at Diageo offers great opportunities to develop your career and gain experience across various and key areas of the business, such as Production and Packaging; Materials and Process improvement; Quality and Health & Safety; Engineering.

Diageo is a close partner of Equate Scotland.

What is the place of diversity and inclusion in the business?    

AS: At Diageo, we want to celebrate life every day, everywhere. We know that the best-performing businesses prioritise inclusion and diversity and we believe it is crucial to create and celebrate a culture where inclusion and diversity are at its heart.

Diversity of thought and experience fuels growth and innovation in our organisation and brings us closer to our consumer base. We view diversity in the broadest possible sense, including gender, ethnicity, age, sexuality, social, and educational background, experience, ways of thinking and more.

How do you ensure this inclusive culture is lived by and embraced within the organisation?  

AS: Our commitment starts with our people and our aim is to ensure that all our people around the world thrive, by shaping market-leading policies and practices.

Everyone within the organization is responsible to push Diageo closer to our Society 2030 targets, which include sustainability and diversity targets among others. In particular, for our Diversity targets, we aim to achieve a 50% representation of women in leadership roles and increase the representation of leaders from various ethnic backgrounds to 45%. However, our commitment doesn’t stop there. It’s important to us that our workforce at all levels represents the communities in which we operate, and we aim to maintain representation at all stages of our recruitment process.

Mobility and growth are not only encouraged, but supported by the business. This means that representations at a leadership level can come from within the company, through a process of career crafting and development. This is particularly relevant when we think of those among us who might not have had the opportunity to follow role models that could represent them. By joining Diageo, they can become role models themselves and inspire others.

Jorgie, you mentioned being part of the Rainbow Network.

What’s your involvement in this group?

JH: The Rainbow Network is one of Diageo’s internal ERGs (Employee Resource Groups). It provides information, support and advocates for the inclusion of LGBTQ+ employees and their allies.

It is so important to me personally to be able to advocate for LGBTQ+ employees and foster a truly inclusive environment for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations within Diageo. As a bisexual woman, I also feel that the Rainbow Network plays a key role in allowing me to be my authentic self and amplify celebrating LGBTQ+ inclusion in Diageo. For example, this June Diageo raised over 80 Progress Pride Flags around the world to celebrate Pride. This is a hugely powerful display of Diageo’s commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion and especially powerful as a global company, showing our equal and unwavering support for individuals that live or work in markets that might not be as advanced, in terms of LGBTQ+ rights.

Are there other Employee Resources Groups in the UK and who can join them?

JH: In addition to the Rainbow Network, Diageo UK also has 3 other ERGs, We Are All Able, Spirited Women and REACH (Race, Ethnicity And Cultural Heritage). All the ERGs are open to all employees and play a pivotal role in helping to ensure Diageo is as inclusive as possible.

Can these groups influence decisions within the business?

JH: Yes, all our ERGs act as consults to the business; helping to identify areas for progress and improvement. This has helped us to develop some of our most progressive and inclusive policies and guidelines, which protect and respect all of our employees.

What is the Diageo balance+ menopause app?

AS: In our effort to make a difference and continue to innovate in the D&I space, Diageo has become the first global company to make the balance+ menopause app available to all our employees worldwide. The app will give all Diageo employees unparalleled access to specialist medically approved content to help optimise their mental health, nutrition, sleep, physical health, sexual health and skin and hair.

Do you have any specific initiatives and policies that support the attraction, retention and progression of women?

AS: One example is our female empowerment programme, which focuses on four key areas: ensuring a diverse and equitable workforce; delivering targeted skills training to women in hospitality to improve their knowledge and job prospects; working with partners to train women in marginalised communities and helping them find jobs and start businesses; raising awareness among consumers.

We are proud to be the first alcohol beverage company to sign the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles.

When it comes to guidelines and policies, a few examples include guidelines related to Gender Identity, Gender Expression, and the Menopause. We also have a Family Leave Policy, which allows all new parents to take up to 26 weeks off work, fully paid! This has been incredibly well received and has allowed parents the time and energy to dedicate to their families.

What do you like the most about working at Diageo?

AS: Coming from past experiences within a more traditional/hierarchical work culture, the most impactful difference I’ve noticed is that no one is too important to be spoken to. There is a sense of purpose and collaboration across all functions and levels. I also believe that we understand the value of making mistakes, accepting feedback, and improving. This helps me grow at a personal and professional level.

JH: The sense of purpose and engagement you can get as an employee is very important to me. I love the fact that you can make positive changes and that the organisation is receptive to people stepping forward. This creates a feeling of empowerment and the fact that there is already a structure in place to support this makes it easier to take action and contribute.