Asian Pacific American Heritage is Rich in Stories at Diageo

4 Jun 2021

Here at Diageo, our people are our #1 enabler of our success, and our commitment to a robust Inclusion and Diversity agenda is critical to the success of our business. We are focused on creating the most inclusive culture for our employees, partners, suppliers, and communities to celebrate diversity and help shape a more tolerant and just society.

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), a time when we celebrate the culture, traditions and heritage of our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, both among our employees and in the locations where we live, work, source and sell. This year’s celebration has been unlike any we have experienced.

In the wake of a rise in incidents of violence and hate against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, we began the month of May with a focus on listening and allyship. Our leadership came together to openly and empathically hear the concerns of our AAPI colleagues and co-workers as they expressed their fears and hopes for more understanding and support.

“I am proud to stand with our Asian American Pacific Islander communities in fighting discrimination and bigotry in all its forms. We take great pride in our efforts to promote greater understanding while celebrating what makes us unique.” Steve Rust, President, Reserve & New Business Commercialization Executive Sponsor – Pan Asian Network

To take action against this anti-Asian hate, the Pan Asian Network (PAN) business resource group in the North America market, in partnership with Hollaback!, a global, people-powered movement to end harassment, sponsored two critically important capability sessions open to all employees around the world focused on bystander intervention training. This equipped our global employee population with the tools and resources to get involved when they witness acts of aggression and violence. It was a clear lesson in getting actively involved and core to our efforts to amplify allyship.

PAN also hosted an honest and engaging panel dialogue titled “Courageous Conversations: Not Your Model Minority,” featuring Lavanya Chandrashekar, CFO, Diageo, and Ann Soh Woods, founder of Kikori Whiskey. In this bravely open conversation hosted and moderated by Christina Choi, SVP, Tequila, Rum and Gin, our three panelists debunked the Model Minority Myth and shared stories of how this stereotype has impacted their personal and professional experiences.

Throughout the month of May, PAN also made sure to spotlight and celebrate our Asian culture brands and the faces behind them, including Ann Soh Woods and Kikori Whiskey as well as our newest team members in Davos and TyKu Sake.

Through its “Kikori Stories” series, PAN celebrated the culture that makes this community rich in history, tradition and flavors, sharing AAPI employees’ stories of the ingredients that shaped their identity today, culminating with a cocktail session hosted by Ann who welcomed two key AAPI mixologists – Hemant Pathak of Junoon in NYC and Christian “Suzu” Suzuki of Rye, Wildhawk & Kagano in the Bay Area of California. Their unique stories and perspective brought to life their heritage and was a perfect close to this month’s celebration.

Although our APAHM activities in May have concluded, we look forward to continuing the dialogues and engagement in partnership with the other business and employee resource groups around the world to ensure we are helping support and enable all of our employees to actively live our values every day.