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Mairead Nayager discusses Diageos focus on diversity

Mairead Nayager discusses Diageo's focus on diversity

 March 04, 2019

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Mairead Nayager is the Chief HR Officer at Diageo. Mairead is a vocal advocate of diversity and inclusion in business. She has put her support behind key campaigns championing women in business, and diversity and inclusion more generally, including the 30% Club, Free the Bid and Open for Business. Mairead has supported the promotion and acquisition of women into a significant number of critical roles. For example, she has ensured Diageo has a strategy to create a senior leadership team which is 40% female by 2025 and has committed to ensuring that 50% of hires to Diageo’s global graduate programme are women. 

Mairead spoke to the Irish Times about Diageo's focus on inclusion and diversity.

Sharing advice with other women

Thanks to her role in an inclusive company, Mairead is often asked advice by women who are facing discrimination in other workplaces. 

“I get phone calls from people – friends of mine, or relatives – saying: ‘This is what I’ve just been told, is that reasonable?’ And I say: ‘No, that’s blatant discrimination. Here’s what you do, you say this, and you say that, and I guarantee that it will change'," explains Mairead. 

Overcoming obstacles to inclusion

Mairead discusses why women often don't reach executive roles in a company and how companies can adjust their working environment to help women thrive.

“Senior roles are, by definition, more stressful and you feel like you need to be more available. But I think many companies are getting beyond that. I don’t feel, for example, that I have to be fully available all weekend, every weekend. I just don’t,” she says. In her office, “nobody is clock-watching”.

Unsociable hours can also be part of the problem. “If women do feel the responsibility of looking after children, then expecting that they will work night shifts as well... that’s challenging,” says Mairead. “We’re looking at all options in terms of the flexibility that we can show. We do still have to run a 24/7 operation.”

Proud of Diageo's progress

Mairead discusses Diageo's progress in advocating for diversity and inclusion within the workplace. Diageo has a median pay gap of 5.4 per cent, much less than the average gap of 18.4 per cent. In fact, Diageo Great Britain is one of 13 per cent of companies that pay women more than men per hour. 

“We are quite proud of where we have come out [in Diageo GB],” says Mairead. “I don’t think there are many companies that can show a positive position, albeit we still have the challenge of Scotland to overcome.”

Diageo have started to close the gender gap in their Scotland through scholarships for women who want to study at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. In Ireland, Diageo now has its first female apprentice.

“We have a female apprentice working in the craft technical side of the business for the first time in, I think, 250 years," says Mairead.

“Because of the nature of that work, even through school, you don’t see females tending to choose the subjects or show the interest in it from an early age. So we are positively taking steps."

Join talented women like Mairead at Diageo

Women's work is valued at Diageo and they thrive with the support and opportunities given to them in the company. As one of the leading alcohol beverages companies, Diageo offers a wide range of opportunities to talented women. Learn more and apply now!


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