DISCUS, Pronghorn Partner to Improve DEI in Spirits

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and the DEI-focused company Pronghorn today announced a partnership to increase hiring from within the Black community among leading spirits suppliers. 

According to Pronghorn research, while Black Americans represent 12% of alcohol consumers across categories, they make up just 7.8% of the sector’s labor force and 2% of executives in the industry. To address the employment gap, Pronghorn seeks to gain commitments from suppliers, distributors and retailers to fill 1,800 roles within the industry during the next ten years.

Pronghorn is a standalone company focused on cultivating the next generation of Black entrepreneurs, executive leaders and founders within the spirits industry. The organization was co-founded by spirits industry veterans Dia Simms, Erin Harris and Dan Sanborn.

This initiative, led by Pronghorn and in partnership with DISCUS and DISCUS Members, seeks to identify qualified candidates from within the Black community to fill positions from internships to the executive level in the distilled spirits industry and associated roles. Available positions will be posted on Pronghorn.co/careers and the career pages of participating spirits suppliers.

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“With this first of its kind, industry-wide initiative, Pronghorn and DISCUS will correct the imbalance of underrepresented groups to reflect the market we serve,” says Simms. “We are focused on granting access and removing barriers that have put Black people and other communities of color at a disadvantage when it comes to ownership, investing or just working within the spirits industry in general.” 

Victoria Russell, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Beam Suntory, adds, “As Chair of the DISCUS DEI Committee, I’m proud and inspired by our collective efforts to increase representation and drive measurable change among distilled spirits suppliers and ensure equitable opportunities for Black talent within the industry.”

In 2021, Diageo North America became an anchor investor in Pronghorn and committed dedicated resources to provide a set of industry expertise to help Pronghorn’s investments in Route to Market strategies, trade and brand marketing, supply chain and manufacturing, among other disciplines.

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The company’s participation in Pronghorn is part of a broader program within Diageo North America supporting diverse communities, including $10 million in permanent endowments across 25 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the U.S. and awarding grants in cities to help hospitality industry businesses adjust to COVID-19 requirements.

Aspiring spirits industry professionals can visit pronghorn.co for more information on current and future opportunities. They may also visit the career pages of participating DISCUS Member suppliers, including Bacardi, Beam Suntory, Brown-Forman, Campari Group, CIE, Constellation Brands, DIAGEO, Edrington, Hotaling, Jägermeister, MGP, MHW, Moet Hennessy USA, Ole Smoky, Pernod Ricard, Remy Cointreau, William Grant & Sons and Uncle Nearest and Old Dominick.

“In addition to working hand-in-hand with Pronghorn to achieve equal representation for the Black community, DISCUS has developed educational content, available through the DISCUS Academy, which provides resources and tools to further advance potential talent,” says Chris Swonger, president and CEO, DISCUS and Responsibility.org. “We are stronger together and will continue to support Pronghorn’s diversity initiatives by keeping pace with the rapid changes in the marketplace.”

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