Diageo North America Ranked 8 in 2013 DiversityMBA 50 Out Front Companies for Diversity Leadership

Diageo North America #8

Norwalk, Conn.
More than 2,500 employees
President, Diageo North America: Larry Schwartz
CDE, Diageo North America: Lisa Catanzaro

Back in 2011, Diageo, the world’s largest supplier of premium spirits (think Johnnie Walker), beer (think Guinness) and wine (think BV and Sterling Vineyards) announced that it had not yet reached its global target by 2015 of 30 percent of senior-management positions filled by women; it was at 26 percent.

Diageo was still above the global average of 20 percent that year and still higher than the 21 percent average in 2012, according to research from the Grant Thornton International Business Report. But the company clearly was not content with settling for above average. Such diligence explains why Diageo is among our Top 10 companies.

The company has had its fair share of accolades. It received the 2012 Opportunity Now FTSE 100 award, given to companies with the highest representation of female executives. Diageo was singled out for its four female board members (out of nine) and its percentage of women in senior-management roles, now at 27 percent.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation also gave the company’s North American branch a 100 percent score on its corporate equality index. The rating system measures the equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees in the workplace.

“While we believe we have come a long way and are pleased that 27 percent of our senior executives are now women, we know we are on a journey and it can take years,” said Lisa Catanzaro, senior vice president of talent and diversity at Diageo North America. “There is always more progress to be made.”

Diageo has also continued its commitment toward hiring and promoting women, which makes up nearly 35 percent of the company’s total workforce, according to Diageo’s 2012 Sustainability and Responsibility Report. Almost one out of every four women holds a managerial position, mirroring the percentage for female senior managers.

Add to that flexible working hours, telecommuting options, paid maternity leave and employee-assistance programs and suddenly it becomes clear why women enjoy working for Diageo. In fact, Working Mother magazine listed Diageo North America as one of its “Top 100 Companies” last year. “Our gender initiatives are critical to Diageo’s business,” Catanzaro said.

Diageo also offers resource groups for African Heritage, Latino, Pan-Asian and LGBT employees, all of whom are monitored by the company’s Inclusion and Diversity Council. Made up of senior leaders, the council advises on recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce while working with the employee resource groups on ensuring a comfortable, thriving business. “They champion big initiatives,” Catanzaro said of the council. “While diversity is about recruiting people with similarities and differences, inclusion focuses on creating an environment where everyone feels like they have a voice and are appreciated for the talents they offer.”

Others have taken notice of Diageo’s council. Last year, Diageo was ranked ninth on the Association of Diversity Councils’ Top 25 list of councils, up from 17th in 2011. But, as Catanzaro said, there is more work to be done. The company plans on launching a mentoring program geared toward women and people of color in July, at the outset of our fiscal year. And at least 50 percent of a new Future Leaders program designed to groom potential managers will come from diverse backgrounds. “We strive to include a high percentage of diverse employees in each of our leadership programs,” she said.

As for female senior managers, the target remains 30 percent by 2015.

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