Diageo CEO: ‘Diversity makes us a better business’

From Executive Grapewine

On Monday Diageo’s CEO was recognised by the Women’s Business Council as being an important agent in transforming workplace cultures for better gender equality.

Ivan Menezes, who has been CEO at the alcoholic beverages company since 2013, was given the award, alongside the Head of Sky’s Software engineering academy, as the council published their five years on report – which looks at changes to gender equality in the UK workplace.

Giving a keynote speech at the conference, Menezes says that the reason Diageo do well so well is down to ambition and action.

He told the audience at the Guildhall, London: “I feel honoured to have been asked to speak here today on the progress we’ve made on gender equality.

“At Diageo, we’ve come a long way at every level of the business but let me be clear: we still have so much more to do. Our progress comes down to two things: ambition and action.

“The commitment at the highest levels to make change happen and the action on the ground to make that vision a reality.

“Our commitment to gender equality in business comes down to the view that an inclusive and diverse is not just a good thing it is also a business imperative.

“A more diverse business is not just a better place to work it makes us a better business too.”

At Diageo, the Gender pay gap stands at 5.4% – which has improved since 2017’s 8.6% and is much lower than the UK average of 17.9%.

40% of Diageo’s Executive Committee is made of women – which is much higher than the council’s 2020 aim of 33%.

AstraZeneca and Willmott Dixon were amongst the other Women’s Business Council winners at the group’s fifth awards.


The winners in each section were:

  • Men as change agents: Ivan Menezes, CEO, Diageo and Conrad Longworthy, Head of Software Engineering Academy, Sky
  • Starting Out: Karen Sutherland, VPHE Medicine, Astrazeneca
  • Getting On: Clare Francis, Group Resourcing Manager, Willmott Dixon
  • Staying On: Professor Jo Brewis, Professor of People and Organisation, The Open University
  • Enterprise: Francesca Warner, Co-founder, Diversity VC
  • Returners: Karen Mattison, Co-founder, Timewise


Dame Cilla Snowball DBE, Chair of the Women’s Business Council, explained that she hoped other businesses could learn from these best practise examples.

“We have advocated from the very start that organisations can learn from each other on best practice and measures that have been effective – to ensure their own actions to close these gaps are targeted, evidence-based and integrated,” she said.