Friday, December 28, 2012

In Good Spirit: Smarter Reporting at Diageo

This second post in my series leading up to the Smarter Sustainability Reporting Conference in London on 5th February 2013 (read about Smarter Reporting at L'Oreal here) is all about Diageo, Smarter Reporting and Responsible Drinking. This is perhaps particularly relevant during the current season which usually sees a significant hike in drinking-related road accidents and fatalities.
 Recently, I took the opportunity to chat with Carolyn Panzer, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for Diageo plc. Carolyn is responsible developing and overseeing the strategy for community investment, external reporting, and alcohol in society - including, responsible drinking initiatives, responsible marketing and innovation, and alcohol policy. Carolyn is also the Chairperson of the Distilled Spirits Council's Code Review Board and has nearly 30 years of experience in the beverage alcohol industry, working across industry sectors in both the US and UK.

Carolyn will be talking about: "Participating in indices and rankings - how does this contribute to reporting best practice?" at the February conference.
"The reporting process helps me enormously. It makes us think about our data more and understand our impacts. Smarter Reporting for me is embedding the reporting process in the business - making everybody accountable. Actually, our people really appreciate hearing our story and participating."
"For me, one of the most challenging things about my role is that Diageo is a big company and keeping on top of everything that is going on in the business, keeping up-to-date with internal and external developments and having the headspace to keep on track, is a major exercise in time-management. This can occasionally make me feel vulnerable, I feel I should know everything about everything, but obviously that's not possible. My secret for keeping on top is to encourage others to know more detail. Not only does this help me, it empowers the organization to own sustainability. I don't make it easy for the business. I help them take accountability and own their role in advancing our sustainability and responsible drinking programs. This is now paying huge dividends."

Diageo is the world's leading premium drinks business with beverage alcohol brands across spirits, beer and wine including Johnnie Walker  and Bushmills whiskies, Smirnoff  Vodka, Baileys, Captain Morgan, Guinness and more. Headquartered in the UK, Diageo trades in 180 countries and employs around 24,000 people with net sales of almost GBP10 billion. Diageo manufactures and supplies its brands its brands in 43 distilleries, 16 breweries, 13 wineries, 19 packaging and blending operations, 9 warehouses and 8 other sites.
Diageo 2012 Report

Diageo has a long history of CSR Reporting and the company's latest report was published earlier this year: Diageo Sustainability and Responsibility Report 2012, Celebrating life, today and tomorrow. This is a GRI Application Level B+ Report, with a UN Global cross-reference. This year saw a shift in Diageo's reporting. Carolyn explains:
"This year's report has a lot more engagement - we pushed people to align more closely with GRI indicators. We also we did better on the materiality piece. We conducted a market pilot study and now we plan to take that forward and expand it. We ran three workshops on materiality. Also, we tried to use more everyday language and less "corporate-speak", and, in the presentation of the report, we tried to make it layered. We recognize that not one size fits all and that different stakeholders look for different things, so we opted for a five-minute-read approach as a short summary option for people who don't want to get into all the details. You can you go in and read different sections at a general level or dig deeper for more detail." 

This can be seen from the Diageo business case for sustainability rationale, which is readable and comprehensible for all lay readers.

The Diageo report this year demonstrated good performance achievements against a range of key metrics against several multi-year quantitative targets within the context of a well-laid out strategy. For example, water efficiency improved by 7.2% in 2012, on track to meet a 30% objective by 2015 against a 2007 baseline. Average packaging weight has reduced by 1.6%, on track to meet a 10% target over the same period, bringing the cumulative total to 4.8% reduction. Lost-time accident frequency rate reduced by 43% in 2012, overachieving a 40% target for 2010-2012 by 17%, showing good progress in embedding a safe working culture.  However, by far the most material issue for Diageo relates to the role of alcohol in society and Diageo's responsibilities to address alcohol misuse. Diageo's report states: "In all [stakeholder] workshops, addressing alcohol abuse and promoting responsible drinking was consistently the most important issue for stakeholders as well to us as a company."
A couple of months ago, Carolyn Panzer addressed a groundbreaking meeting of the International Center for Alcohol Policies in which the CEOs of 13 of the world’s leading beer, wine, and spirits producers announced a collective commitment to 10 targeted actions in five areas over the next five years, in order to reduce harmful use of alcohol.  
I asked Carolyn Panzer about how Diageo assesses the impact of its multiple activities in this area:

"Alcohol problems are not new and there have been many initiatives to address these. You can count thousands of initiatives by the alcohol industry, but the real question is what is effective? Where do you focus your resources to achieve the biggest impact? We want to tackle the issue of problem drinkers. Raising taxes on alcohol, for example, is not necessarily effective for problem users as there will always be a way around this."

A case in point is the situation in Keyna where it was estimated that about 50% of alcohol consumed was in the illicit sector. This was problematic, as such products were often made with harmful ingredients which caused illness or even death. Diageo redesigned its entire supply chain to create a new product made from locally sourced ingredients using innovative technology representing a first in the industry and significantly reducing costs for local supply of a safe, quality beer beverage called Senator Keg, costing one fifth the price of Diageo's mainstream beer. Since its launch, the brand has gained 40% of the Kenyan beer market. It's well worth reading this case study in Business Today about the Senator Keg story. This is a fabulous example of how Diageo can support changes in consumer behavior around alcohol. This is the true value of how an alcohol company can work with consumers and local organizations to understand specific issues and behavior patterns and help create breakthrough change which adds value to society and, of course, to the business.

In the area of problem drinking, Carolyn continues: "There are some things that we know work. First, screening and brief intervention demonstrates proven efficacy with problem drinkers. Screening individuals through a set of ten questions and engaging them in a conversation about risks helps people reduce problem drinking. We have provided grants to support this kind of activity. Second, high visibility enforcement of the law on drink-driving is effective. Not every country, for example, has a maximum drink-driving limit. We work to support introduction of legislation in this area in countries where this is not present. However, even where there is a legal limit, highly visible enforcement is key. For example, in Mexico City, we ran a campaign in support of the local law enforcement authorities, in which we contributed 50,000 breathalyzer kits. Drink-driving reduced by 30%. There is an important continuum that you need to follow to achieve change. We need to ensure the right regulations  as well as build general awareness. In the U.S., we spend 20% of our broadcasting spending on responsible drinking messages. We always try to work in partnership with other organizations and groups to ensure we have the best understanding of the issues and the best expertise on board to move forward."

Finally, all Diageo employees have a role to play in advancing responsible drinking behavior. Carolyn says: "We are always trying to connect our people with our CSR story, and we ensure they are involved and informed of our initiatives in this area. For example, over the Holiday Season, we campaign our employees with the need for extra vigilance and their role as responsible drinking ambassadors."

As it is still the Holiday Season, this is great advice for all the CSR Reporting Blog Readers. I am not much of a drinker myself, actually. Personally, I am more concerned with ice-cream rather than alcohol. If ever there are laws which limit ice-cream consumption prior to driving, I may have a bit of a problem.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Looking forward to seeing you at the Smarter Sustainability Reporting Conference in February 2013. Don't forget to drop me a line for your registration discount code!

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, winning (CRRA'12) Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices  Contact me via   on Twitter or via my business website  (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm)

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