We have challenged ourselves to do more and do better

Mairead Nayager, Chief HR Officer, Diageo

 IWD 2021

This year I am celebrating International Women’s Day from a new perspective. I’m on maternity leave with my second child, and I am reminded of how important it is for us to create a more equal and fairer society for future generations.

And this year’s theme, Choose to Challengeis personal to us all. It reminds us that we can all play a role in creating a more equal society – through challenging ourselves, and others, to drive change for the better.

I am fortunate to have colleagues across 180 different markets who stand up every day and ask: what more can we do to ensure that everyone at Diageo - regardless of gender, ethnicity, ability, age, sexual orientation, social class, education, experience - can thrive.

For over a decade at Diageo, we have been asking what role business can play to drive change, by creating better communities, better partnerships and better places to work. We have challenged ourselves to do more and do better, and it is challenge that underpins everything we do to achieve greater inclusivity.

It was central to our introduction of bold and ambitious goals, that have seen Diageo ranked as the top business in the UK for female representation by this year’s Hampton Alexander Review, which makes us all immensely proud, but I know that it is really only the beginning. If we are going to see a change across our business that truly reflects the world we live in, we must do even more.

We’ve recently set a higher bar - putting new and more ambitious goals at the heart of our 10-year action plan to create a more inclusive and sustainable world. By 2030, we are aiming to achieve 50% representation of women in all leadership roles, and to increase representation of leaders from ethnically diverse backgrounds to 45% and we have now also included targets in our long-term incentive programmes for leaders. We are focusing on how we can drive gender parity forwards from the value chain and community programs, and right through the organisation from supply to brand.

But whilst increasing inclusion and diversity should be led from the top, the whole organisation feels responsible for driving change that lasts. For me, choosing to challenge is about every individual asking him or herself what we can do to call out gender bias or any other bias, to agitate for change, to broaden perspectives and to champion conversations on subjects that would have previously been taboo.

This year we have also introduced new guidelines to raise awareness of the menopause and provide resources to employees who may be experiencing menopausal symptoms. These guidelines were created by a global working group, including members of Diageo's Spirited Women's Network resource group, drew on personal experiences, best practice theory, and external peer and partner company thinking. Real action and commitment driven from all levels in the organisation is what makes a difference. 

I #ChooseToChallenge us all to think about what change we could make, however big or small, within our business to ensure we’re creating a truly inclusive working world.


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