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Community investment

We invest in long-term, actively-managed programmes that help serve critical local needs, from access to clean water to skills development, aiming to make a sustainable difference to our communities.

Our approach

Building on the legacy of our brands’ founders, among them John Walker and James Buchanan, who saw business sense in protecting and investing in their own communities, we focus our efforts on what will best serve local needs and where we believe we can make most impact. These include: responsible drinking; access to clean water; empowerment through skills, education and enterprise; and supporting local interests and infrastructure.

Promoting responsible drinking is a significant aspect of our community investment, as detailed in the alcohol in society section. So are our efforts on water, which is critical to our business and to local livelihoods. Our Blueprint Water Framework, explained further in the water and environment section, focuses in part on improving water infrastructure and sanitation in local communities where access to clean water is limited.

Our focus on empowerment through skills, education, and enterprise embodies a long-standing commitment to investing in communities. Our approach has evolved over the years, looking increasingly at our entire value chain – from providing vocational skills in the hospitality industry in Latin America and Asia, which you can read about below, to working with smallholder farmers in Africa on increasing their yields, which you can read about in our supply chain section.

We have begun to emphasise women’s empowerment as part of this work, reflecting feedback from NGOs and other stakeholders about the impacts of the alcohol industry on women, and the rise of women’s empowerment as an issue on the global policy agenda.

Beyond these areas, we also contribute to local charitable causes and disaster relief as part of our community investment, particularly in regions where employees and operations are directly affected. These rely both on employees from across the business giving their own time and money, and on contributions from Diageo and the Diageo Foundation, a UK‑registered charity. Moreover, many of our brands run programmes to raise funds for worthwhile causes, whether in response to natural disasters or to support wider charitable campaigns.

Performance against target
Target by 2013 2013 performance Achievement
Contribute 1% of operating profit to charitable causes every year 0.9% Not achieved
Community investment by type (£000)


  1. Note that investment shown in local interests and infrastructure £8.4 million (2012 – £8.1 million) to the Thalidomide Trust in the United Kingdom, and £1.7 million (2012 – £1.5 million) to The Thalidomide Foundation Ltd as explained below.
Community investment by region (£000)


  1. Investment shown for Asia Pacific includes £1.7 million (2012: £1.5 million) to The Thalidomide Foundation Ltd in Australia as explained in our Thalidomide trust legacy commitment. The contributions listed here are distinct from the litigation settlement achieved in July 2012 in Australia. They also include total investment from Global Travel & Middle East.
  2. Investment shown for Europe includes £8.4 million (2012: £8.1 million) to the Thalidomide Trust in the United Kingdom.

Access to clean water: Water of Life

Performance against target
Target by 2013 2013 performance Achievement
Improve access to safe drinking water for 1 million people in Africa every year until 20151 Approximately 1 million Achieved
  1. To better manage our programme, we have reworded this target to focus on annual performance.

Water of Life provides safe drinking water to people who need it. Since June 2006, we have developed more than 200 projects in 18 countries, supporting initiatives including boreholes, wells, rainwater harvesting and domestic filtration devices. We aim to develop a Water of Life community programme at each production site in Africa by 2015. As well as providing access to clean water, Water of Life projects aim to:

  • Combine safe water with sanitation
  • Promote good hygiene and sanitation
  • Develop people’s skills and communities’ ownership of projects
  • Be self‑financing, to ensure the upkeep of equipment and technology.

Most projects are co‑funded with other organisations so that they benefit from both local knowledge and expertise in water sustainability. For example in Uganda, we partnered with the government on a water system rehabilitation project at Jinja hospital, which serves 320,000 people a year. In Nairobi, we worked with the city council to invest in water tanks and a piping system at the Kariobangi health centre. Elsewhere, our partners range from social enterprises on the ground in Kenya, to NGOs, to multinational consumer goods companies.

Although most of our Water of Life projects are in Africa, we have also launched Water of Life projects in Asia, including in Malaysia, Vietnam, and Cambodia, which you can read about in our case study.

Investing in skills, education, and enterprise

We believe that developing new skills and providing education are important indicators of socio-economic development, and we have, historically, placed great emphasis on this in our local communities. Another big priority for us is encouraging enterprise as a means of improving social mobility, particularly in high growth markets and increasingly among women.

Learning for Life

Performance against target
Target by 2016 2013 performance Cumulative performance
Train 100,000 people through our Learning for Life programme in Latin America and the Caribbean 25,307 88,910 On track

Our Learning for Life programmes teach skills and provide training in bartending, tourism, retailing, hospitality, and entrepreneurship, helping participants gain a real chance of finding employment and becoming active contributors to their community.

In 2013, we ran 59 programmes in 30 countries, and trained 25,307 people, bringing the numbers trained since the launch of Learning for Life five years ago to over 88,000. The programme spans our entire value chain to maximise its impact. In Colombia, for example, Project Entrepreneur, which has been running since 2011, involves working with bottle collecting ‘cooperativas’ – or associations of low‑income families – to help them operate their businesses more efficiently while acquiring an entrepreneurial vision. In August, 300 ‘Project Entrepreneurs’ graduated. Elsewhere, in Miami, 198 students graduated from our Project Hospitality programme, which trains them for the hospitality and tourism sector, which you can read more from our case study.

We are seeking to expand Learning for Life beyond its traditional locations. In Scotland, for example, we are developing pilot projects which we aim to launch within the next two years. We are also intensifying Learning for Life’s focus on the quality of training, identifying particular needs in local job markets along with commercial links to our business. Ultimately, we want participants to be best placed to find a job and keep it. In line with this, we’re conducting economic impact studies to measure the success of projects, beginning with Mexico, with the aim of using the results to help us to enhance our programmes.

'Plan W: Empowering women through learning'

In December 2012, Diageo announced a £6.4 million strategy to empower 2 million women in 17 countries in Asia Pacific by 2017. As we grow in that region, it becomes increasingly important to support local communities, particularly women who often play pivotal roles there. ‘Plan W: Empowering women through learning’, aims to improve the experience of women from many different backgrounds by helping them develop their skills through training.

Building on existing community programmes which had women’s empowerment components such as Champions for Change, described in last year’s report, we have created Plan W to empower women further in four ways:

  • Our company – strengthen our internal diversity policies and practices
  • Our industry – increase women’s employability in the hospitality sector through training
  • Our communities – work with partners to train women in marginalised communities to improve their prospects, and establish programmes to support social entrepreneurs
  • Our consumers – raise awareness through brand‑led campaigns.

To date we have worked with CARE International, an NGO specialising in gender issues. In Nepal, we’re working with CARE to deliver skills-based training and seed funding to marginalised women to start their own businesses, while in Sri Lanka we’re training women to work in the hospitality industry.

We’re also working with other partners in different parts of Asia. For example, in Thailand we are working with the NGO PDI (Population and Development International), to address gender inequality in the rural village of Ban Kok Klang by generating income through farming, establishing loan funding, and training influential female community leaders who can help the programme reach a wider audience.

In Cambodia we’ve extended our partnership with Watershed, which you can read about in our case study. In April we launched the Diageo Foundation Korea with a pledge to contribute £500,000 every year for the next five years. In partnership with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, the foundation will support initiatives to empower marginalised women.

Supporting local interests and infrastructure

Many of our brands and employees support local causes, from disaster relief efforts after the earthquake in China’s Sichuan province in April, and the flooding in Australia, to events like the Great British Bike Ride, which raised £60,000 for Help for Heroes, a charity that supports wounded servicemen and women. Read more about our fundraising for social causes in brand‑led programmes.

Sometimes, an investment made to benefit our operations also has a tangible positive impact on our local communities. In Nigeria, for example, we made a significant investment in the Lyoha road connecting our production and distribution site to the main Lagos road networks, including asphalting and gas pipe protection.

Thalidomide trust legacy commitment

Our community investment figures include £8.4 million (2012: £8.1 million) to the Thalidomide Trust and £1.7 million (2012: £1.5 million) to The Thalidomide Foundation Ltd in Australia, in support of a legacy commitment. Thalidomide is a drug which was distributed in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand by the pharmaceutical subsidiary of the Distillers Company Limited (DCL). It was withdrawn after side-effects of the drug on unborn children were discovered. In 1986, Guinness acquired DCL and in 1997 merged with Grand Metropolitan to become Diageo. We therefore inherited this commitment from DCL. We are working with various thalidomide organisations, including making contributions to the Thalidomide Trust in the United Kingdom and to The Thalidomide Australia Fixed Trust in Australia.

Reporting frameworks in this section

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