Diageo champions gender diversity in advertising by pledging to Free the Bid

Diageo has pledged to ‘Free the Bid’ in a move to promote equal opportunities for women working in the advertising industry.


Mother Antler Drink

Diageo has pledged to ‘Free the Bid’ calling upon its ad agencies and content producers around the world to ensure they put forward at least one female director as part of any creative bid. By harnessing the combined influence of all its agencies, Diageo hopes to drive greater diversity within the bidding process as well as in the industry more broadly.

Today’s announcement is part of Diageo’s continued ambition to foster a more diverse and inclusive culture, both within the business as well as in the communities in which it operates. Diageo’s Executive Committee is made up of 40% women, and Diageo’s Board will achieve gender parity in April 2018 when Ursula Burns takes up her position.

Launched in 2016, the Free the Bid initiative encourages gender parity within the advertising industry, where less than 7% of directors are women and only 9% of commercials are directed by women1.

“As advertisers we have the power to normalise gender equality by what we choose to show in our ads, and who we choose to produce them. The advertising industry is moving in the right direction to achieving greater gender diversity, but it must move quicker. I’m delighted to pledge to Free the Bid. Our support is consistent with Diageo’s belief that businesses that value diversity perform better. I’m so proud that our Executive and Board are gender balanced, it changes the conversation and sets a tone – making us hungry to see equality at every level of our business and with the partners we work with.”

Syl Saller
Syl Saller

Chief Marketing Officer

“Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Smirnoff and the many other brands under the Diageo umbrella have been leading the advertising world with some of the coolest advertisements out there for decades. With Diageo's pledge, we're thrilled about the incredible opportunities that will open up for women directors globally. Diageo and their creative agencies are about to discover the most untapped pool of creative talent in the ad industry - women directors. We look forward to seeing the results of this unprecedented collaboration. This is a big day for our Free The Bid family and all the women who are ready to be heard by a brand that is committed to actual change. Cheers!”

Alma Har’el
Alma Har’el

Founder of Free The Bid

Free to Bid logo

In January 2018 Diageo was recognised by the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index for performance and disclosure around gender equality. Diageo is listed joint first in the ‘Cranfield School of Management Female FTSE Report 2017 for Companies with Female Executive Directors and ranked fifth in the Thomson Reuters Global Diversity and Inclusion Index.

For more details visit http://freethebid.com/about/.


1 Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film