Gender and sexual harassment in the workplace has been in the news after revelations about widespread sexual misconduct in both the US and the UK, especially in the entertainment industry. The allegations of men abusing their power over female colleagues are making a lot of people wonder which companies are actually encouraging, rather than limiting, female professional development.

It seems that Diageo, the giant British multinational alcoholic drinks company, is one of those companies and has committed itself to become the best employer for women in the UK. It isn’t just talk either; the company has said that 40% of its global executive committee and more than 30% of its global senior leadership team are women. Additionally, by April 2018 its board of directors will finally reach gender parity when Ursula Burns becomes non-executive director.

The increasing numbers of women in more senior roles is positive news for gender equality advocates and for the business itself, as Diageo’s HR director Mairéad Nayager explained: “I am proud of the progress we are making at Diageo with gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation and want us to go further. Creating a truly diverse and inclusive culture is not only the right thing to do, it supports the success of our company.”

But the company doesn’t stop there; in fact Diageo Great Britain (England and Wales) claims that female employees actually earn 9.8% more on average than their male counterparts; reversing the infamous pay gap trend. However it must be said that Diageo Scotland, a separate legal entity to Diageo Great Britain, tells the opposite story with men making 16.7% more on average compared to women because of the higher number of male-dominated manufacturing jobs.

As a result, the company is aiming to lower that pay gap by encouraging more women to enter the manufacturing process and by offering extra support, training and mentoring for female employees in the long term.

Creating a more diverse, equal, and representative workforce is vital for companies to better gain ‘new blood’ that can help them shake up their business models with novel ideas from different genders and ethnicities. Different perspectives across the entire organisation can help companies like Diageo stand out in a crowded marketplace where competitors are offering similar products at similar prices.

The value and encouragement of women and minorities in Diageo is in stark contrast to the gender and sexual harassment in the news at the moment and provides companies and individuals with a great example of how a multinational can benefit from supporting women in the workplace.

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