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Engaging stakeholders

Understanding how our business affects our stakeholders is essential for determining what our key impacts are and how we need to manage them. Engagement is a process that ranges from sharing information and discussing issues with stakeholders to, at its best, working in partnership on projects of mutual interest.

Our approach

The desire to learn and understand diverse points of view is implicit in our values.  We aim to learn from our stakeholders, and include their views as part of our decision-making processes.

We engage with our stakeholders at two main levels, local and global. At a local level, employees across many functions engage with our people, local governments, customers and community groups on issues of immediate concern to them. At a global level, we engage with our investors, global customers, suppliers and multi-national organisations such as United Nations agencies or NGOs that have a broad remit.

At both levels, engaging with stakeholders has helped to inform our activities around the world. We run surveys with certain stakeholders – such as employees, investors and customers – to seek feedback on our programmes. In some cases we hire third parties to engage our stakeholders since we feel that using external researchers can encourage stakeholders to be more open and honest in their feedback. This year we commissioned an independent organisation to interview a representative group of stakeholders interested in each of our sustainability and responsibility impacts.

 

Our stakeholders

We define our stakeholders as all those who affect or are affected by Diageo’s business. They include internal and external stakeholders, ranging from employees, investors and commercial partners to governments and local communities.

This table sets out each stakeholder group and examples of how we currently engage them.

Stakeholder groupOur engagement programme
Investors
  • Formal annual general meetings
  • Meetings between investors, senior leadership and investor relations team
  • Conversations between corporate social responsibility team, investor relations team and investors
  • Annual investor audit
  • Online communications
  • Analysts' reports
  • Investor conferences
Employees
  • Values Survey
  • Team meetings
  • Employee newsletters
  • Forums
Commercial partners
  • Annual customer survey
  • ‘Top-to-Top’ meetings between Diageo and customers' senior executives
  • Third-party supplier audits
  • Speak Up helpline
Consumers
  • Consumer carelines
  • Formal market research
  • Brand and corporate websites
  • Social media
  • Product information on packaging
Government / regulators
  • Briefings and direct meetings
  • Multi-stakeholder forums
Local community organisations and nongovernmental organisations
  • One-to-one meetings or conversations
  • Multi-stakeholder forums
  • Annual reviews (Diageo Foundation)
  • Ongoing partnerships
Media
  • Senior leadership meetings
  • Global networks
  • Regular media surveys
 

Issues of importance to stakeholders

The following are topics that surfaced this year as being important to our external stakeholders. These are not meant to represent the key interests and concerns of our stakeholders as a whole. It reflects the most frequent themes from a preliminary stakeholder study we commissioned as well as our own conversations this year with close to fifty people including investors, government officials, NGOs, consultants, academics, industry groups, media and police representatives.

We have addressed each of the issues in some way within this report. Note that there are other issues that surfaced less frequently, such as climate change, biodiversity, tax, health and wellbeing, responsible downsizing, capacity building, gender diversity, packaging, sustainable brands, supplier management and lobbying.

 

Responding to stakeholder concerns

Stakeholder engagement is not one-way communication. Our objective is to respond to the issues raised by stakeholders in a satisfactory way. In doing so, we aim to prioritise high-impact issues raised by stakeholders that are strategically important to us.

For example:

  • When external stakeholders were concerned that marketing was increasingly moving online and the industry’s controls were not adapting quick enough, we started work with industry groups to develop digital guidelines to complement our own Digital Marketing Code. These guidelines will be announced in September 2011.
  • It was increasingly important to our customers that our products help them minimise their own environmental footprint so we developed our Sustainable Packaging Guidelines with this mind.
  • This year there has been a particular focus from stakeholders on effective access to human rights remedies, as highlighted by a series of reports by John Ruggie, United Nations Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises. As a result, we extended our SpeakUp line to our suppliers.
 

Formalising our programme

Our business works with and responds to stakeholder concerns through the particular global function or local market that holds the stakeholder relationship. While issues of broader concern have been shared informally across our business, we would like to improve how we capture this data globally because this decentralised model means that there may be activity taking place in engaging and responding to stakeholders that we are  unable to record in our global Sustainability & Responsibility Report and address in our Strategy.

As we worked this year to refine and embed our Sustainability & Responsibility Strategy across the business, we began to improve our stakeholder engagement systems by working more closely with local markets to capture feedback and engaging more systematically with global stakeholders. Because this work is not yet complete, we have not included recent feedback into our strategy development. We will continue to consider the best way to capture stakeholder feedback from around the world into our strategy, planning and programmes.