Diageo announces Pronghorn initiative to drive diversity in drinks

Pronghorn Team

Global beverage alcohol producer Diageo North America has announced its partnership with industry veterans and spirits industry innovators, Dia Simms and Erin Harris, to build an inclusive and diverse economic initiative. 

The initiative itself focuses on cultivating the next generation of diverse founders, executive leaders and entrepreneurs in both a sustainable and scalable manner. Named Pronghorn, this transformative partnership will create a standalone business that is dedicated to expanding diversity, equity, and inclusion within the beverage alcohol industry.

Simms was inspired to name the partnership Pronghorn as homage to the land animal, indigenous and unique to North America, that can maintain the fastest speeds over the longest distances on land.

“Diversifying the industry accelerates innovation and competitiveness, and our strategic approach to recruit, retain and advance the Black community and communities of color within the industry alongside Diageo North America couldn’t be more necessary and timely,” stated Pronghorn co-founder, Harris. “We understand first-hand the importance of being motivated and the critical need for ownership and participation at every level of the category.”

When studying consumers across the US beverage alcohol category, the Black community represents a 12 per cent proportion, but is inequitably represented within the industry from the perspectives of employment and ownership.

Pronghorn Team
From left to right: Pronghorn co-founder Erin Harris, Pronghorn co-founder Dia Simms, and Debra Crew, Diageo North America president (Photo: Lukasz Suski)

Diageo North America is addressing these inequities head-on by joining the initiative as a founding partner, with a significant anchor investment, in the launch of Pronghorn. In its initial phase, it will focus on addressing the lack of equitable representation among the Black community in the spirits industry by stimulating entrepreneurship, recruitment and retention.

Through this partnership, Pronghorn will identify and nurture new brands and nourish emerging businesses through capital investment, thereby generating hundreds of new founders and thousands of participants, and disrupting from within an industry that creates $353 billion in economic value 1.

“It’s important that the Black community is represented on both sides of the bar, from brand creation to boardrooms and everywhere in between,” said Simms, Pronghorn co-founder. “We’re proud to partner with Diageo to make sure that the Black community has a seat at the table. And anywhere there isn’t enough room at the table we’ll build a bigger table.”

“We’re honored to work alongside industry veterans and visionaries as they work to create a blueprint to effectively diversify an entire industry,” said Debra Crew, president, Diageo North America. “We recognize that the Black community within the category has been underrepresented and there are few sources of funding available. Our aim is to swiftly fuel change in the right direction with the qualified and motivated guidance of the creators of Pronghorn.”

This latest effort aligns to Diageo’s recent announcement of Society 2030: Spirit of Progress, a global 10-year action plan to help create a more inclusive and sustainable world. As part of this plan, Diageo has committed to increase representation of global leaders from diverse backgrounds to 45 per cent, achieve at least 50 per cent representation of women in leadership roles, and ensure our community programs will be designed to enhance diversity and inclusion of previously excluded groups by 2030, among other goals.

1 According to the Economic Impact of American Wine & Spirits Distributors:

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