- Diageo has teamed with industry veterans Dia Simms and Erin Harris to launch Pronghorn, a standalone business that seeks to boost diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the beverage industry, per a press release. The spirits giant will provide a "significant" anchor investment to launch the initiative.
- Pronghorn will focus on addressing equitable representation by the Black community in the spirits industry by focusing on entrepreneurship, recruitment and retention. It will then help grow new brands and emerging businesses through capital investment, per the release.
- The DEI initiative seeks to boost the standing in the spirits industry of the Black community, which represents 12% of beverage alcohol consumers, with a goal of generating $2 billion in economic value in the U.S. — a fraction of the industry's $353 billion in economic value.
Diageo's Pronghorn initiative builds on the spirits marketer's previous DEI moves, with a focus on the industry in which the company represents more than a quarter of the volume market share. Pronghorn is also a part of Society 2030: Spirit of Progress, the company's 10-year plan to create a more inclusive and sustainable world. The plan outlines Diageo’s goal to have 50% of all leaders within the company being women, and 45% of leaders from BIPOC communities. They’ve also pushed for more women to be involved in their marketing process.
Pronghorn — named after the North American land animal that can maintain the fastest speeds over the longest distances, per the release — will seek to boost brands and businesses to help the Black community take greater control of the spirits market.
"It's important that the Black community is represented on both sides of the bar, from brand creation to boardrooms and everywhere in between," Dia Simms, Pronghorn co-founder, said in a statement.
Simms previously was president of Combs Enterprises, an umbrella company of Sean Combs' businesses that includes several alcohol brands, and is currently CEO of Lobos 1707, a tequila and mezcal brand that is backed by LeBron James. Fellow co-founder Harris is the CMO of Lobos 1707 and previously was the senior vice president for marketing at Combs Enterprises.
By providing a capital infusion to ancillary Black businesses as a way to increase DEI, Diageo's initiative resembles recent efforts by other brands and agencies. Fellow alcohol brand Constellation has also taken steps to ramp up diversity. In 2018, the company pledged $100 million to female-owned alcohol brands as part of the Focus on Female Founders initiative. The company is also focusing on BIPOC communities with the Focus on Minority Founders initiative, which also aims to give $100 million to wine and spirit brands founded by underrepresented communities. Molson Coors has also taken steps to increase diversity in their portfolio by investing in a brewery founded by rival gang members. The maker of Coors and Miller Lite has a target of increasing representation of people of color in its U.S. operations by 25% by the end of 2023.
Barbara Smith contributed to this report.