- 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.
While Diageo's announcement does not explicitly mention marketing, 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. McDonald's last week said it will more than double investments in diverse media partners as part of a new plan to improve representation. Procter & Gamble in March launched a platform that will work for increased inclusion of Black creators across advertising, film and television industries. While aimed more squarely at marketing, many of these initiatives include investing in Black-owned businesses as a way of improving diversity at the root.