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Banner photo of Old Forester distillery

Our Strategy

PUTTING OUR VALUES INTO ACTION

We are dedicated to creating a responsible drinking culture, providing a safe, inclusive, and engaging workplace, protecting the environment, and making a positive contribution to our communities.



We leverage our relationships with key internal and external corporate responsibility partners to stay informed on trends, identify opportunities for collaboration in and across the industry, and lend our voice to issues pertinent to our business.

OUR PRIORITIES

To have the most impact, we prioritize the corporate responsibility issues that are closest to our business, and conduct periodic assessments of our most material issues. When we look holistically across the landscape of social, environmental, governance, and economic issues and evaluate where we should focus our resources, we have identified four major priorities:

  • Alcohol Responsibility: Actively creating a responsible drinking culture where we reduce alcohol-related harm, promote responsible consumption, and practice responsible marketing.
  • Diversity & Inclusion: Creating an environment where leveraging diversity and inclusion occurs naturally, giving us a sustainable marketplace advantage.
  • Community: Enriching life in our communities through charitable contributions and employee engagement activities.
  • Environmental Sustainability: Responsibly growing our brands and company, while protecting and enriching the natural environment on which we depend.

CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY GOVERNANCE

While we have long believed environmental and social responsibility is aligned with our vision for the long-term health and prosperity for our communities, consumers, employees, and other stakeholders, we also know these investments create value and contribute to our business success.

Our priorities are overseen by dedicated senior leaders at Brown-Forman who report to our Board of Directors.

Like other business performance measures, we track Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practices and metrics as key indicators of our performance. We use globally accepted frameworks such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) guidelines to inform our reporting. Please see our GRI Index and SASB Index for more information.

Our commitment to ESG areas align with a subset of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, allowing our efforts to support the greater good. The Sustainable Development Goals are endorsed by industries and stakeholders worldwide.


UNITED NATIONS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

Our ESG commitments align with UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), endorsed across industries and stakeholders worldwide. Each year, we also reaffirm our continued support for the United Nations Global Compact.

While the intent of the SDGs and Global Compact are large scale, much of our work happens more locally in communities where we operate. By doing our part, we can contribute to solving these broader, more complex challenges.

In 2019, we reviewed and expanded the list of SDGs that align with our goals. We identified a subset of goals, which we believe have the strongest connection to our four corporate responsibility focus areas, and are where we can have the most impact. This year we report highlights of our progress for fiscal 2020 against each of these goals, along with key partnerships. Please see our Partnerships section for a complete listing.

 

Good Health and Well Being icon

ALCOHOL RESPONSIBILITY

SDG 3: Good Health and Well Being
  • In order to align with SDG 3, we focus on cultivating positive impact through our Pause responsibility campaign, responsible marketing, partnerships with organizations like Responsibility.org, and our ongoing support for addiction recovery groups.
  • We have expanded our support of addiction recovery centers to include New Directions for Women in California and Phoenix House in the Northeast U.S.
  • In 2018, Chambord announced its partnership with Alteristic, a national organization dedicated to reducing power-based personal violence, to provide a series of bystander intervention training workshops for the bartending community.
  • Another way we align with SDG 3 is through our employee Live Well program where we promote overall physical and mental well-being. We strive to cover a wide range of topics such as exercise, nutrition, financial health, community involvement, mental health, and stress management through Live Well campaigns, awareness activities, events, and incentives. Employees across the globe can receive online wellness coaching, and are incentivized to participate in wellness programs through our Virgin Pulse wellness platform. In the past year, we have also added resources and information on coping with the stress of COVID-19 and its impact on employees’ well-being.
  • We recognize that sometimes promoting well-being means not drinking. Our SPIRIT Employee Resource Group is committed to ensuring all employees feel welcome as contributing members of the organization regardless of their own choice of whether to drink or not.
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    Clean water and sanitation and icon

    ENVIRONMENTAL SUSUTAINABILITY

    SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
  • We are committed to reducing the water use per unit of product we produce by 30% and reducing wastewater discharge per unit by 30% by 2023 from a 2012 baseline. Our progress against this and other goals can be found in our Annual Integrated Report.
  • We completed risk assessments to ensure the protection of our vital watersheds. To mitigate these risks, we are now working to implement plans that are focused on protecting the watersheds and improving our operational use of water.
  • At our Slane Distillery in Ireland, we continue to capture rainwater to use in operations to reduce the amount we draw from the Boyne River.
  • In Amatitán, Mexico, because water is a key ingredient in tequila, and a precious commodity, our Casa Herradura facility runs its own wastewater treatment plant, ensuring we release clean water.
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    Affordable and clean energy icon

    SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
  • We are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions within our owned operations by 15% by 2023, from a 2012 baseline.
  • The East Forks Wind Project located in Colby, Kansas, is now operational, and will offset more than 90% of our electricity usage in the U.S.
  • At our Brown-Forman Distillery we converted to cleaner-burning natural gas as our boiler fuel. We estimate a reduction of emissions by 13,000 tons of CO2 per year, and a reduction of our fuel delivery costs and carbon footprint.
  • At Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards in California, we received certification by the California Sustainable Winegrowers Alliance for its owned vineyards. In fiscal 2017, it completed an on-site solar facility that produces an average of 150,000 kWh of energy each year. Sonoma-Cutrer also uses 100% of treated process wastewater for on-site vineyard irrigation.
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    Responsible Consumption and Production icon

    SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
  • In total, our owned facilities currently divert 99.7% of waste from landfill.
  • We are collaborating with DendriFund on white oak and agricultural sustainability to improve regeneration of the trees our cooperages use to make our whiskey barrels and other needs for products such as furniture and flooring.
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    Life on land icon

    SDG 15: Life on Land

    We are working with DendriFund to initiate and accelerate a collective effort to bring rye back to Kentucky as a commercial cover crop. This collaborative effort will help conserve farmland and improve soil health and water quality, while also providing a local rye supply for Brown-Forman, the Kentucky bourbon industry, and others such as bakers and brewers.

     

    Life on land icon

    DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION


    SDG 5: Gender Equality
    SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities
  • In 2019, we began the next phase of our diversity and inclusion journey, by publishing our ten-year strategic plan, Many Spirits, One Brown-Forman, including six strategic imperatives to better focus our actions through 2030. The strategy is led by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, but its success relies on leaders and teams throughout the organization.
  • Our ambitions include having at least 40 percent female senior leaders globally and 25 percent people of color in the U.S. by 2030. We aim to achieve these ambitions with a mindful and continuous focus on recruiting, retaining, and developing diverse talent. Our goals will continue to expand over time to include other aspects of diversity.
  • Our Championship Program is designed to accelerate the leadership development of women through deliberate senior management level advocacy. The Championship Program expanded its global reach as we successfully launched this initiative in Europe.
  • Our Talent Advocacy Program (TAP) accelerates the leadership development of racially diverse talent and is supported through senior management advocacy. The effort to increase representation is further supported by development and recruiting partnership initiatives led by the BUILD (Blacks United in Leadership Development) and COPA (Creating our Own Path, Latino Employees) ERGs.
  • In fiscal 2020, we launched our newest ERG, EAST (Embracing Asian Society and Traditions). It celebrates and promotes Asian cultures, and contributes unique business insights on Asian markets.
  • Brown-Forman has participated in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, receiving a perfect score of 100 from 2011-2020.
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    COMMUNITY RELATIONS

    This year we updated our community relations vision to reflect a new ambition: “Leverage our company culture of giving back to deliver transformative community impact as a best-in-class philanthropic leader.”

    In fiscal 2020, the Brown-Forman Foundation donated $3 million and our corporate charitable giving totaled $10 million. We contributed over 16,000 employee volunteer hours, with more than 130 employees serving on nonprofit boards of directors.

     

    Quality Education icon


    SDG 4: Quality Education
  • To honor Brown-Forman’s 150th Anniversary, the company donated $150,000 in scholarship funding for the 15,000 Degrees Initiative, an organization committed to increasing education attainment, prosperity, life-long learning, and an improved quality of life for African American students in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • For more than 30 years, Brown-Forman employees have partnered with Phyllis Wheatley Elementary School in West Louisville during the holidays by providing gifts for students. This year, for the first time, Brown-Forman was able to provide gifts for every student at the school. In addition, the Brown-Forman Foundation contributed $50,000 to support Blessings in a Backpack’s food program at Wheatley Elementary. This program provides food for students to take home every Friday of the school year, ensuring they have food for the weekend.
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    Sustainable Cities and Communities icon


    SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown-Forman donated approximately $2 million to relief efforts in the U.S. and other locations where we work to support workers in our industry and supply nearly 70,000 meals to our local community.
  • The Brown-Forman Foundation supported 21st Century Park’s Outdoor Classroom S.E.E.D. Program, which subsidizes park programming costs to provide access to students of Title 1 Schools and groups that provide services to children of low-income households, who would otherwise be unable to participate.
  • OUR PARTNERS

    Our corporate value of teamwork extends to our responsibility efforts. We seek relationships with our partners where shared ideas and resources inform and guide our corporate responsibility strategy. We partner with individuals and organizations because we believe this kind of deep collaboration leads to greater positive impact. A selection of our partner relationships is outlined below:

    Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility

    The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) is an independent U.S. nonprofit funded by the distilled spirits industry that works to eliminate drunk driving, prevent underage drinking, and promote responsible alcohol consumption.

    Portman Group

    The Portman Group is an alcohol responsibility organization and regulator of alcohol marketing in the U.K. It operates codes of practice on alcohol marketing and sponsorship to ensure that alcohol beverages are marketed in a socially responsible way, only to those aged 18 and over, and in a way that does not appeal to those who are vulnerable.

    Ceres

    Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. Through powerful networks and advocacy, Ceres tackles the world’s biggest sustainability challenges, including climate change, water scarcity and pollution, and inequitable workplaces. Since joining in 2011, Brown-Forman has partnered with Ceres to engage with independent stakeholders on important sustainability issues.

    The Nature Conservancy

    The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a global environmental nonprofit working to create a world where people and nature can thrive. Brown-Forman has partnered with the Kentucky Chapter of TNC since 1975, on projects ranging from stream restoration at the Woodford Reserve Distillery to promoting urban conservation at Brown-Forman’s corporate headquarters.

    DrinkWise

    DrinkWise is an Australia-based nonprofit that promotes behavior change through informational and educational campaigns. Brown-Forman is a long-time supporter of their campaigns aimed at parents as role models and influencers.

    The Healing Place

    The Healing Place in Louisville, Kentucky, reaches nearly 1,000 men and women suffering from drug and alcohol addiction daily, providing the tools for recovery and restoring productive lives. Our support includes both financial contributions and our employees’ time and talent.

    The Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable

    The Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) brings together the sector’s global leaders to collectively advance environmental sustainability by driving an agenda that helps accelerate reducing resource consumption and mitigating environmental impacts. Brown-Forman partners with BIER, providing technical knowledge, insights, and experience that help BIER to accelerate solution development, and enable the sector to speak with an allied voice and inform the development of global standards.

    Active Heroes

    Active Heroes is a nonprofit in Louisville, Kentucky, whose mission is to reduce veteran suicide and assist military families. Active Heroes partners with one of Brown-Forman’s Employee Resource Groups, BRAVE, which supports, develops, and promotes the unique characteristics and needs of military veterans and their families.

    The Morton Center

    The Morton Center in Louisville restores the health of individuals and families struggling with alcoholism and other addictions by providing specialized counseling and educational services. The Morton Center partners with our SPIRIT Employee Resource Group to educate our employees on the disease of addiction.

    Human Rights Campaign

    The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) improves the lives of LGBTQ people by working to increase understanding and encourage the adoption of LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices. Brown-Forman began participating in HRC’s Corporate Equality Index in 2009, receiving a perfect score of 100 each year for the last ten years.

    International Alliance for Responsible Drinking

    The International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to reducing harmful drinking and promoting understanding of responsible drinking. It is supported by the leading global beer, wine, and spirits producers, who have come together for a common purpose: to be part of the solution in combating harmful drinking. To advance this shared mission, IARD works and partners with the public sector, civil society, and private stakeholders.

    SpiritsEUROPE

    spiritsEUROPE represents one of Europe’s most valuable agri-food export sectors and, with it, the interests of 31 associations of spirits producers as well as 10 leading multinational companies. spiritsEUROPE’s mission is to represent, defend and promote the European spirits sector and help members achieve sustainable business growth.

    DrinkAware

    The Drinkaware Trust is an independent U.K.-wide alcohol education charity, funded largely by voluntary and unrestricted donations from U.K. alcohol producers, retailers, and supermarkets. The Trust is governed independently and works in partnership with others to help reduce alcohol-related harm by helping people make better choices about their drinking.

    Kentucky Distillers’ Association

    The Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) has been keepers of the Kentucky bourbon tradition since 1880. The KDA is responsible for promoting and protecting all things Bourbon, from taxes to tourism, technical issues, new international markets, responsibility measures, and more.

    Fundación de Investigaciones Sociales A.C. (Foundation of Social Research) (FISAC)

    Fundación de Investigaciones Sociales A.C. (FISAC) is a nonprofit established in 1981 by leading producers of wine and spirits and mass media in Mexico. Brown-Forman is proud to partner with FISAC in support of its mission to contribute to a responsible drinking culture through health education and the promotion of balanced healthy living. FISAC focuses on drunk driving prevention, combating underage drinking, promoting responsible consumption in adults of legal drinking age, and respecting those who choose not to drink.

    Fund for the Arts

    Fund for the Arts works to maximize the impact of the arts on economic development, education, and quality of life in Louisville, our hometown. Our partnership provides valuable opportunities for our employees to serve on the organization’s Board of Directors, in its NeXt! Leadership program, and to volunteer for the annual workplace campaign.

    Metro United Way

    Metro United Way is a pillar of the Louisville community dedicated to improving education, financial stability, and health for those in need. Brown-Forman has supported Metro United Way for more than 30 years, with our employees serving as board leaders and committee members and leading internal campaigns to raise money for its programs.

    Volunteers of America

    Volunteers of America creates positive change in the lives of individuals and communities through a ministry of service that seeks to help our most vulnerable populations struggling with the disease of addiction. We have worked with Volunteers of America Mid-States for over 20 years, helping end homelessness for families through our Louisville Family Housing Services.

    Cover of the 2020 Annual Report2020 Annual and CR Report

    2020 Annual and CR Report
    Other Downloads and Reports
    GRI >
    SASB Disclosure >

    Cover of Brown-Forman 2019 Corporate Responsibility Scorecard
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