Enriching Life Responsibly
Our approach to alcohol responsibility shows the same care and respect we apply
to making our products.
A SPIRIT of Respect
Enjoying a life in recovery GIVES me a sense of responsibility to help other people who might struggle with their relationship with alcohol or just prefer not to drink.
– JUDY SPALDING,
PARALEGAL AND SPIRIT CO-FOUNDER
When Judy Spalding joined Brown-Forman nine years ago, sharing her history of alcohol addiction and recovery was the last thing on her mind. Working for a beverage alcohol company turned into an opportunity for Judy to blaze a courageous trail in transforming attitudes toward non-drinkers.
“I had been in recovery for 22 years when I joined Brown-Forman as a paralegal. It has turned out to be a wonderful fit, but early on I had some challenges. At company events, people would ask why I wasn’t drinking, and push for an answer. There was also the concern about potential negative impact to my career because of being a non-drinker.
I suggested the idea of SPIRIT to Ralph de Chabert, our Chief Diversity Officer, and one of our creative group members came up with the name for SPIRIT, which stands for Showing Pride in Respecting Individual Tastes. The goal was to promote inclusion for non-drinkers and build understanding for the experiences of those who decide not to drink for whatever reason. We pitched the idea to leadership and they were on board from the beginning, giving us their encouragement and a budget.
Since launching the SPIRIT employee resource group in 2011, we have made so much progress. Now, when I tell people I’m in recovery, it’s not a conversation stopper. We have become more aware of the role that drinking or not drinking plays in our culture and have become more inclusive and welcoming of those who choose not to drink. We have an active membership and host speaker events open to everyone. We also have creative and delicious mocktails at company events, and they are actually trendy! I am proud to have opened up this dialogue and know that SPIRIT has been part of a change in our culture.”
Responsible alcohol consumption is in our personal interest and critical to the success of our business. We are doing our part to discourage underage drinking, binge drinking, and drunk driving, promote a culture of moderation inside and outside of Brown-Forman, and help those struggling with addiction.
In Fiscal 2017, we updated our interactive online education game the Think and Drink Tavern. The interactive simulation provides tips on factors that lead to intoxication, the signs that someone may be over the limit, and how best to intervene when someone has overconsumed. It also provides facts about alcohol and the body, as well as how to identify problem drinking.