Updated: Feb 14
By Melita Kiely
The world’s leading spirits producer, Diageo, has co-founded a 10-year initiative to drive diversity, equity and inclusion across the industry.
L-r: Erin Harris, Pronghorn co-founder; Dia Simms, Pronghorn co-founder; and Debra Crew, president, Diageo North America (photo credit: Lukasz Suski)
The Johnnie Walker owner partnered with industry experts Dia Simms and Erin Harris to create the ‘inclusive and diverse’ economic initiative, called Pronghorn. The partnership will work to build the next generation of diverse founders, executive leaders and entrepreneurs in a ‘sustainable and scalable’ way. Pronghorn will create a dedicated standalone business that will focus on expanding diversity, equity and inclusion within the drinks trade, and help people in the Black community generate US$2 billion in economic value in the US. The Black community accounts for 12% of alcoholic beverage consumers in the States. Harris, Pronghorn co-founder, said: “Diversifying the industry accelerates innovation and competitiveness, and our strategic approach to recruit, retain and advance the Black community and communities of colour within the industry alongside Diageo North America couldn’t be more necessary and timely. “We understand first-hand the importance of being motivated and the critical need for ownership and participation at every level of the category.” To begin with, the project will focus on addressing the lack of equal representation among the Black community in the spirits trade by encouraging entrepreneurship, recruitment and retention.
Pronghorn will work to identify and ‘nurture’ new brands and businesses through capital investment, to generate ‘hundreds of new founders’ and ‘thousands of participants’. Diageo said the partnership aligns with its Society 2030: Spirit of Progress plan, a 10-year initiative to create a more ‘inclusive and sustainable world’. Debra Crew, president, Diageo North America, added: “We recognise that the Black community within the category has been underrepresented and there are few sources of funding available. Our aim is to swiftly fuel change in the right direction with the qualified and motivated guidance of the creators of Pronghorn.” In February this year, Diageo pledged US$10m to Black universities in the US to support diversity in the alcohol sector. Earlier this year, The Spirits Business spoke to bartender Deano Moncrieffe, who runs Hacha, London’s acclaimed agave spirits bar, about his work to increase the industry’s diversity.