Hear from our Chief HR Officer on International Women’s Day

Louise Prashad, Chief HR Officer

Feature

Today our thoughts are with women all over the world, who are facing fear, uncertainty and a daily struggle just to survive. Undoubtedly, International Women’s Day is different this year, yet it remains a moment to come together and recognise the progress that women have made in society, and to push even harder to #BreakTheBias.

Louise Prashad

Louise Prashad, Chief HR Officer

At Diageo, we know that progress requires bold ambition and action. It must start with building representation throughout the organisation, and especially in the most senior roles that can influence decisions, shape culture, and provide a pathway for others. We are proud to have 60% female representation at board level, and talented women in key executive roles including Chief Financial Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, and Regional Presidents of our largest markets. However, we know there is more to do.

There are real barriers to attract and retain female talent in areas like STEM (science, technology, mathematics, engineering) where bias and stereotypes can often exist. Focusing on entry to these roles, as well as digital, media and technology is crucial. At Diageo, we are investing in female-focused apprenticeship and scholarship programmes, as well as championing trailblazers like our own Dr Emma Walker, Johnnie Walker’s first female Master Blender.

Businesses must also create a culture of inclusion, where every unique individual can thrive and be at their best. This requires collaboration and input from people right across the business. We are fortunate to have highly active employee resource groups globally, including our Spirited Women’s Network, who drive thought-provoking conversations and shape vital new policies and programmes.

The role of businesses must also be to drive change beyond its own walls, and to actively confront bias and challenge stereotypes in society.  We are focused on ensuring our advertising and media spend on global brands such as Guinness and Johnnie Walker, progressively portrays women, and we have also committed 10% of our global purchasing spend towards diverse-owned and operated suppliers by 2025.

Women bring huge value into the organisation, and it has never been more important to retain women in the workplace. The pandemic has sadly highlighted that many inequalities still exist. As one of the first companies to globally launch an equal parental leave policy, we aim to ensure the burden of childcare does not fall unduly on mothers. Since launch two years ago, Diageo’s fathers are now taking on average 99 days of parental leave. We have also strengthened support for employees experiencing menopausal symptoms and fertility issues, and we will continue to embrace flexible working so that women can thrive in all aspects of their lives.  

I’m incredibly proud of the work we have done at Diageo to create an equal and inclusive business. As we face into rebuilding our social and economic structures, why wouldn’t we do it in a way that is fair, equitable and eradicates the bias that still exists? There is no better time than now to #BreakTheBias.