Diageo North America continues to champion gender equity in Canada

5 Oct 2023

The underrepresentation of women in leading roles in the broader food and beverage industry mirrors trends across other sectors. Research shows that only 18% of executive roles in leading Canadian companies are held by women and over one in every five board of director seats in Canadian companies are occupied by a woman.

Leaders across Diageo North America, Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO), the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) and the British Consulate General in Toronto convened during Canada’s Gender Equality Week in September to honor and discuss the progress made towards gender equality, best practices and the continuing work needed to advance further progress and remove the systemic barriers in the food and beverage industry.

During the meeting, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Lisa Thompson, and Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity Charmaine Williams, joined the discussion and conveyed the Government of Ontario’s encouragement for this initiative. Over the next 12 months, this group will continue to advance discussions that prompts more action.

Dana Dickerson (Grain Farmers of Ontario), Julie Maw (Lambton County), Jodi Rumble (Diageo Canada), Hon. Charmaine Williams (Women's Social & Economic Opportunity of Ontario)

Dana Dickerson (Grain Farmers of Ontario), Julie Maw (Lambton County), Jodi Rumble (Diageo Canada), Hon. Charmaine Williams (Women's Social & Economic Opportunity of Ontario)

Stephanie Childs (Diageo North America)

Stephanie Childs (Diageo North America)


Notable comments from the leaders in attendance:

Hon. Charmaine Williams, Associate Minister of Women's Social & Economic Opportunity of Ontario

“The spirits industry not only stands as an important and growing component of Ontario’s economic landscape, but also opens new pathways of opportunity for women entrepreneurs looking to make their mark within the sector. Diageo's Women's Empowerment & Equal Access Conference provided an ideal opportunity to listen to the challenges and opportunities facing businesswomen in spirits--underscoring the importance of welcoming them and their active participation in this industry.”

Fouzia Younis, British Consul General in Toronto

“No industry can succeed without involving 50% of the workforce. Events like today not only celebrate the powerful role that women play in the Food and Drink sector, but also inspire a generation of girls who might be considering their next career move and are looking for the right opportunities. Thank you to Diageo and the organizing team for pulling together such a wonderful event. The British Consulate team in Toronto backs you 100% in your commitment to help all women achieve their full potential.”

George Soleas, President & CEO, LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario)

“LCBO is committed to using our resources to increase opportunity for diversity within the beverage alcohol industry. There are many partners who are making admirable strides in sustainability through diversity, inclusion and community investment, and it was great to see leaders from across Ontario who share a common vision gather to learn from each other.”

Dana Dickerson, Manager, Marketing and Sustainability at Grain Farmers of Ontario

“Women leadership across agriculture and the Canadian food industry is growing and we were thrilled to participate in this symposium with Diageo, a partner clearly committed to furthering the discussions of equity diversity and inclusion. Championing EDI is a priority for Grain Farmers of Ontario, reflected in our core values and strategic plan objectives. We look forward to continued efforts with our value chain partners to further social and economic opportunities for women.”

Stephanie Childs, Executive Vice President, Corporate Relations, Diageo North America

“We are honored to join forces with such distinguished leaders and champion women empowerment and equal access across the food and beverage industry in Ontario. We are steadfast in our commitment to gender equality, reflected within our own leadership team, and believe the beverage industry should do more to attract women. I’m confident this collaborative effort will make a meaningful difference for women entering the food and beverage industry for years to come.”

Championing gender diversity and inclusion in the beverage alcohol industry

From the female whisky entrepreneurs of the eighteenth century to the appointment of the first female Johnnie Walker Master Blender, Emma Walker, in 2021, women continue to play a critical role in shaping the success of Diageo and representation across the industry.

Recent progress across our business includes:

  • Accelerating gender representation in leadership. In March 2023, Diageo announced the appointment of Debra Crew as Chief Executive Officer, the first female CEO in our 25-year history. In North America, women make up the majority of our Executive Committee and we are actively working towards achieving 50% representation of women in leadership roles by the end of the decade. In Canada, Jodi Rumble leads our business as General Manager.
  • Making fundamental changes to our workplace policies and practices to ensure an inclusive environment for women. From our 26 weeks paid parental leave program in Canada and the U.S. to new menopause and mental health support including counselling or mindfulness sessions through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and increased flexibility where needed (e.g., changing working patterns).
  • Breaking down barriers for women in the communities in which we operate – in Ontario we have collaborated with the LCBO on their Spirit of Inclusion initiative, supporting female students enrolled in food and beverage programs in post-secondary institutions across Ontario.
  • Partnering with Business in the Streets (BiTS) to support young entrepreneurs in underserved communities across Toronto and Ottawa through our Learning Skills for Life program. In the first stage of our partnership, 65% of aspiring entrepreneurs participating in the program are female.
  • Demonstrating our commitment to gender representation in all our corporate and brand advertising across Canada and the U.S.
  • Diageo is committed to creating the most inclusive and diverse culture – from the talent we recruit and retain, to our suppliers and how our diverse consumer base is reflected in our brands.


More information on Diageo’s ‘Society 2030: Spirit of Progress’ commitment to championing inclusion and diversity.