Diageo North America improves working opportunities for veterans and ethnic underemployed communities

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Diageo’s commitment to champion diversity and inclusion in the workplace and customer base, is also reflected with the partners we work with and the communities we serve. That is the case of our Learning Skills for Life program in North America, which defined diversity and job placement targets since its inception.

Established in 2014, Learning Skills for Life provides people with free basic employability skills, specialist training and work experience within the hospitality industry. By joining efforts with educational institutions, commercial and community partners that share our ‘skills empowerment’ approach, the four week program aims to improve job related capabilities in areas where adult unemployment and underemployment are high, with a particular focus on supporting veterans and ethnic underrepresented communities.

The first cohort was introduced in Norwalk, Connecticut, then continued to expand the program through strategic partnerships to Houston, Texas, Washington, DC and in 2020 to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Learning Skills for Life delivers social impact

Building strategic partnerships plays a key role in the design of the program, but also identifying specific needs or improvement areas to address in black and brown communities within each city – such as unemployment, skilled bartenders or servers, ethnic diversity in bar management, homelessness, etc. These considerations are aimed to ensure the program achieves its 80% diversity and 80% job placement targets.

To date, Learning Skills For Life has had over 760 participants across different cities, delivering more than 43 classes. Program graduates have experienced a 90% placement rate in internships or fulltime jobs. Inclusion and diversity is embedded in all our programs, with 72% of female participants and 88% ethnic diversity.

In addition, many students have very specific personal needs and challenges, such as homelessness and domestic violence. We identify these needs and select partners that can support students outside of the training programme. For example, homeless participants have also received clothing and support to access services, which also contributes to reducing poverty and promoting better health and wellbeing.

 

Training the returning military and veterans

Diageo North America partnered with the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston supporting military veterans by offering technical and life skills based training – with 187 participants, the program has registered 90% job placement and 86% ethnic diversity rates since it started.

Nicole Griffin inspired us with her perseverance and determination. Before graduating from the Learning Skills for Life program, a Desert Storm veteran living in Houston, was sleeping at the homes of friends and relatives after losing her own home. Now, she is thriving as a food service worker at a Veterans Administration Hospital and will go back to school to get her degree in Communications this fall (2020).