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Advocacy and awareness

Joining forces with governments, NGOs, suppliers, local communities, and the consumers of our brands, means we can make an even greater contribution to socio-economic development around the world.

Our approach

There is increasing recognition – and expectation – among governments and NGOs that the private sector can be a catalyst for sustainable development. This is especially so in countries without well-developed regulatory environments. Beyond good business practices and participatory community investment, we believe that one of the best ways companies can contribute to sustainable local change is by engaging others to become advocates for causes important to them and their stakeholders. Our world-famous brands provide us with a great opportunity to engage consumers in campaigns that champion social and environmental causes.

Awareness: brand‑led programmes

Our brands sponsor many initiatives that address social issues, one of the main ones being the Arthur Guinness Fund . Building on the legacy of giving back that originated with our founder, Arthur Guinness, the Arthur Guinness Fund was established in 2009 to support entrepreneurs with ‘a business head and a social heart’, and is committed to finding innovative solutions to address social problems.

To date, the Arthur Guinness Fund has invested over £11 million in sustainable enterprises. In Ireland, £2.54 million has so far been awarded to 30 projects – for example Hireland, an organisation which aims to reduce unemployment, received £42,000. Elsewhere we are working with Ashoka, the world’s leading association of social entrepreneurs, to help finance their network of over 3,000 social entrepreneurs. For example, one project is a progressive housing development programme in Kenya which could make home ownership affordable to 70% of the urban working population, while offering them the chance to be part of a secure, prosperous community.

Broadening our reach to Southeast Asia, in November 2012 we began working with the British Council in Malaysia, investing £50,000 to fund worthwhile enterprises; while in October 2012, we launched the Arthur Guinness Fund in Singapore, committing £95,000 in the first year to projects that enhance the lives of marginalised women.

Other initiatives

Below are just a few examples from our other brands.

  • Buchanan’s: our Time to Share campaign recruited 6,500 volunteers from Venezuela, Colombia, and Mexico, each of whom donated four hours of their time to community improvement projects, directly influencing the lives of 36,214 people in the region’s neighbourhoods, schools and community centres.
  • Bell’s: in October 2012, we launched a campaign to raise £1 million by the end of 2013 for Help for Heroes, the British military veterans’ charity. By the end of the financial year, we had raised over £500,000.
  • Johnnie Walker: the Keep Walking project in Taiwan has funded community-minded, pioneering business ideas since it launched in 2003. By the end of 2013, it had invested over £4.5 million in social entrepreneurs.


Some of our strongest advocacy work involves arguing for industry-wide standards to tackle alcohol misuse and promote responsible drinking, as discussed in our alcohol in society section. We are also active advocates in the following areas.

  • Anti‑corruption: we are working to address this barrier to economic development in a number of countries. So far the emphasis has been on Africa, including joining the Convention on Business Integrity (CBi) in Nigeria in a move towards a ‘visible zero tolerance’ for corruption, and leading the development of the Code of Ethics for Business in Kenya.
  • Food security: we are one of 28 global companies behind The World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture as a driver of food security, environmental sustainability, and economic opportunity. We are also part of the Grow Africa initiative which promotes agricultural development through public / private partnerships.
  • Water: we are signatories to the CEO Water Mandate, joining UN agencies, NGOs, governments, and other stakeholders in committing to developing, implementing, and disclosing policies and practices around water sustainability.
  • Women’s empowerment: this year Diageo became the first beverage alcohol company to sign the Women’s Empowerment Principles, a joint initiative between UN Women and the UN Global Compact, which Diageo signed in 2002. The UN defines empowerment as a woman’s right to have choices, opportunities and access to resources – all of which improve her sense of self-worth and ability to influence society and the economy.

Reporting frameworks in this section

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