Drinks giant Diageo puts forward a clear view of its big challenges, but lets itself down in the reporting of its performance

As one of the largest alcoholic drinks companies in the world, owning many iconic brands, Diageo is one of the more impressive performers in the sector in terms of sustainability practice and communications. The quality of Diageo’s reporting has improved over time, perhaps like its own Scotch whisky which matures with age, and this 2013 report leaves a generally pleasant after-taste.

The online report has excellent navigation, the narrative is clean and crisp and the messages are well crafted. A series of short case studies enable the story-seekers among us to enjoy sustainability examples of practice from around the Diageo world. A direct and frank style also gives this report credibility, for example in the considered way Diageo addresses the disturbing issue of four employee fatalities in the past year.

Diageo’s 2012 report told a story of a materiality journey, describing material impacts assessment strategy workshops in three markets. Stakeholders had confirmed the key issues to be: addressing alcohol abuse and promoting responsible drinking, tax contribution, governance and ethics, wealth creation, water, carbon, local hiring and local sourcing. This structured process was externally assured against the GRI materiality principle.

Tighter focus

This year, Diageo confirms completion of the materiality review through internal...

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