Diageo is a strong business, growing stronger. In what remain most challenging economic conditions, I am proud that we have delivered excellent growth. We have built a business which is increasingly recognised for the strength of its brands, its growing focus on high-growth markets and its agility in managing resources. As detailed throughout this report we are also known for our strong commitment to sustainability and responsibility.
That commitment is important for many reasons. It is closely aligned to our company values and it creates long-term value for the business. It helps build our reputation with stakeholders and protects our licence to operate. It delivers business efficiencies and security of supply. It helps us engage suppliers, customers, consumers and employees. Very significantly, it drives competitive advantage with key stakeholders in the emerging markets which are increasingly important for our business.
Our purpose is ‘celebrating life, every day, everywhere’. We are proud that our brands are a part of celebrations around the world, but our purpose goes broader. It is underpinned by respect for all those our business touches.
Much of my time is spent in our businesses in market. I have the chance to see first-hand the beneficial impact our work has had on our stakeholders around the world. For example, I have talked to small-scale farmers in Africa who are part of the network of tens of thousands that supply our business. I have seen first-hand how our partnerships – which combine commercial contracts and financial support and training – have improved livelihoods and secured the resources we need for our business to grow.
In Nottingham, England I saw the success of a programme that we support to create a responsible night-time economy. Today, the number of programmes that we support to tackle alcohol misuse totals more than 300 in 49 countries.
I’ve visited many of our operations where we drive our environmental targets – which are among the most challenging in the consumer goods sector. This year we recorded progress on all our operational targets. In particular, our work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 10% while increasing production year on year is a significant achievement.
Other highlights include our Water of Life programme in Africa, where we aim to bring water to 8 million people by 2015; our Learning for Life programme in Latin America, where we have trained more than 63,000 people to enter the job market; and the Diageo Bar Academy in Asia Pacific, where we have trained almost 20,000 bartenders how to serve alcohol responsibly.
Of course, we have also had some disappointments. For example, while we have made progress in promoting a Zero Harm culture, I am saddened to report that one of our employees died following a road traffic accident in Nigeria. One death is too many. Our sympathies go to his family and our efforts to stop any recurrence are redoubled. We will place even more emphasis on preventing accidents in the workplace: our people’s safety is our number one priority.
As our business grows, making a positive contribution to local communities demands a clear understanding of the differing needs of each of those communities.
This year we completed the reorganisation of our business, devolving operational decision-making and responsibility to 21 business units. We will now sharpen our focus on a local approach to sustainability and responsibility. Our global strategy remains the same – along with our commitments to important international frameworks such as the UN Global Compact and CEO Water Mandate. We are increasingly geared to ensure greater responsiveness and flexibility, prioritising those issues that are most important to our local businesses and their diverse stakeholders.
I am proud of what we have accomplished to build a responsible and sustainable company, though I recognise that there are many opportunities and challenges ahead of us. We will continue to drive these efforts and look for solutions that benefit both Diageo and the many communities in which we work and live around the world.