Diageo: Developing and delivering a diverse workforce

Diageo: Developing and delivering a diverse workforce

With Catriona Mackie
EHR Director, Global Supply & Procurement, Diageo


Tell me a little about the company you work for? 

I have the great privilege to work for Diageo, we are a global leader in beverage alcohol with an outstanding collection of brands across spirits and beer. We produce over 200 brands – old and new, large and small, global and local - that are enjoyed in more than 180 countries around the world. At the heart of everything we do is our purpose; celebrating life, every day everywhere.


How important is innovation to the business?

Our ambition is to be one of the best performing, most trusted and respected consumer products companies in the world. We are in a strong position to achieve this due to our scale, geographical diversity and desire to continuously improve our performance. We are a business built and sustained through innovation, and developing new ideas is crucial to our growth strategy. We're proud to have our pioneering people worldwide growing our business and nurturing our brands, creating new products, categories and experiences for consumers.


How does Scotland help your global brand?

Scotland is an important talent base for our business, here the entrepreneurial spirit of the founders of our brands lives on and our 3,500 employees run the end-to-end supply chain that makes amazing brands such as Johnnie Walker, Bells, Tanqueray, Smirnoff and Gordon’s to name but a few.


How do you develop your people in the workplace to  help deliver a diverse workforce which can continuously improve?

We do this in three main ways.

First by growing our people, our employees learn the technical or professional skills required for their roles such as distilling, procurement, packaging, or logistics, against a defined set of competencies which show the employee what they must be able to demonstrate in terms of skills, knowledge and behaviours for their particular role. We have assessment tools that can be used by the employee to evaluate themselves against these competencies, which they then discuss with their line manager and result-focus their learning activity on the priority gaps.



We follow a 70:20:10 model where 70% of learning will come from experience in the role, 20% from coaching and 10% from formal learning such as workshops or virtual solutions.

We train our managers to be coaches to ensure that they have the skills to support the 20% of learning through on-the-job coaching. Self-managed learning is essential for us as an organisation and all employees have access to an online learning academy. Nowadays everyone needs to continually learn and develop, so providing easy access to a wide variety of different learning opportunities is key.

We also encourage our leaders to be teachers; they deliver training to our people in areas such as leadership and behaviours or the technical skills relating to a particular role. As well as developing our people, it also helps our leaders reconnect to their personal leadership purposes. 

This work-based learning approach gives learners the opportunity to immediately apply theory or knowledge in their role which is invaluable in reinforcing the learning to drive performance improvement. 

Attracting talent is also vitally important. Diageo is a fantastic organisation to work for, however sometimes due to the manufacturing skills and requirements of certain parts of our business in Scotland a number of roles are still considered to be predominantly for males. Another challenge we face is that there may not always be candidates with the right level of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) skill sets for operations and engineering roles. We work hard to address this through continuing to support internships and apprenticeships, alongside working with schools, colleges and universities.  We are determined to find a way to address diversity in some of the harder to attract specialist roles such as engineering and operations.

We are particularly proud of our apprenticeship programme. Since starting the programme in 2006, we’ve recruited almost 160 apprentices. We currently have over 60 apprentices across Scotland, in areas ranging from engineering, distilleries and packaging plants, to coopers and coppersmiths learning the age-old craft trades of the industry, and plan on recruiting a further 32 in 2018. A quarter of our apprentices are also women, including Scotland’s first ever female coppersmith apprentice.



Over the next three years, through structured training, our apprentices will learn the intricate skills related to their role from college, in the workshop and on-the-job while also being supported by a mentor who will coach and develop them as they move through their apprenticeships.  

And finally a future talent pipeline. We continually benchmark ourselves against other organisations so we can learn from the best. We encourage our people to join industry working groups to enable us to keep up-to-date with external developments and emerging trends. The world is changing and one thing we need to ensure is that we keep up–to-date with the pace of digital change. Going forward, skills integral to the future of our business will be in areas such as data analytics, lean manufacturing and innovation. In the future, our work-based learning and development will have to adapt to these trends to ensure that we are growing our people to meet the needs for the future workplace.

Focusing on these key areas will enable us to continue to grow, and build the entrepreneurial spirit of our people and grow our brands to ensure we live by our purpose of celebrating life every day everywhere.  

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