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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.

Our priority stakeholders


Consumers

Non-profits and Community organizations

employees

The Brown Family Shareholders

Issue experts and thought leaders

Investors

customers

Suppliers

Government and regulators

OUR PRIORITIES

We focus our resources where we can make the most difference for our company, society, and the environment.

To have the most impact, we focus on what we do well by prioritizing the corporate responsibility issues that are closest to our business, conducting periodic assessments of our most material issues. When we look holistically across the landscape of social, environmental, 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 moderate consumption, respect the choice not to drink, and ensure responsible marketing of our brands.
  • Environmental Sustainability — positively influencing responsible management practices for water, energy, and other resources that we use to make our products
  • Our People — fostering talent, and valuing diversity, creativity, commitment, and expertise of our employees enables us to grow and endure
  • Community Relations — contributing our time, talent, and resources to the communities to which we belong so that they are better places to live and work

UNITED NATIONS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

Our commitment and impact extend far beyond Brown-Forman’s walls. As we grow and conduct business internationally, our principles follow us. We subscribe to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We are also a signatory to the UN Global Compact concerning human rights, labor practices, environmental stewardship, and anti-corruption.

While the intent of the SDGs and Global Compact are large scale, much of our work happens more locally in communities where we operate, or with issues that our company affects. By doing our part, we can contribute to solving these broader, more complex challenges.
In 2017 we reviewed our corporate responsibility strategy against the SDGs to understand where our work aligns with these goals. We identified a smaller subset of goals, which we believe have the strongest connection to our work and are where we can have the most impact. These include SDGs 3, 6, 7, and 15. This year we report our ongoing commitment and progress against these goals

 

Good Health and Well Being icon

SDG 3: Good Health and Well Being

SDG 3, and in particular the sub targets focused on preventing and treating substance abuse, align closely with one of our core priorities reflecting our dedication to promoting healthy and responsible alcohol consumption. We aim to have a positive impact through responsible marketing, partnerships with organizations leading these efforts like Responsibility.org, and our ongoing support for local and national addiction recovery groups.

We have expanded our support of addiction recovery centers to include New Directions for Women in California, Phoenix House in the Northeast U.S., and the DV8 Kitchen in Kentucky. We sponsor employee education initiatives around this topic with guest speakers such as renowned author Sarah Hepola.

While research shows that alcohol doesn’t cause violence – behaviors and social norms rooted in power and control do – we recognize it can be a risk factor associated with harassment and sexual assault. We believe our employees and bartenders everywhere should be equipped with the resources to act. Our Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur partners with Alteristic, a national organization dedicated to reducing power-based personal violence, to train bartenders on bystander intervention.

More information on our alcohol responsibility efforts

We also work to promote physical and mental health and well-being, a subset goal of SDG3, with our employee LiveWell program. We strive to cover a wide range of topics such as exercise, nutrition, financial health, and stress management through LiveWell campaigns, awareness activities, events, and incentives. Employees across the globe can receive online wellness coaching, and are incentivized to participate in wellness challenges.

 

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SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Clean and readily available water is a vital ingredient of our products, so we have always had a strong interest in protecting water quality and availability. We continue to pursue our goals to reduce water use as an input and wastewater generated by 30% per unit of product by 2023 (from a 2012 baseline). We focus our water stewardship efforts in watersheds we have assessed to be critical to the business. Recent initiatives have included:

● At our Slane Distillery in Ireland, we capture rain water to use in operations, thereby reducing 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 built a wastewater treatment plant, ensuring we release clean water.

As a result of these and other initiatives, our total water use per unit of product has decreased 10.3% from our 2012 baseline.

 

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SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Our ongoing efforts to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency are strongly linked to SDG 7. Our current 2023 target to reduce absolute GHG emissions by 15% helps contribute to this goal. Our progress in developing on-site renewable energy sources through solar and biogas are part of our small contribution to increasing clean energy.

In 2018 we announced a major commitment to renewable energy with an agreement to purchase 30 megawatts (MW) of electricity annually from Solomon Forks Wind Project, a new wind power project in Kansas. The wind farm is expected to generate the equivalent of more than 90% of Brown-Forman’s annual electricity usage in the United States. Construction of the wind farm is expected to be completed in 2020.

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. It also reduces our fuel delivery costs and carbon footprint. It’s a smart investment in the dual benefits of efficiency and sustainability.

 

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SDG 15: Life on Land

Our sustainable agriculture and forestry programs are essential to protecting the land we and our suppliers, employees, and customers rely so heavily upon. Our work with state and local forestry associations to support sustainable white oak production, our sustainable wine-growing practices, and our recent efforts to begin incorporating sustainable agriculture practices into our supply chains, are integral to ensuring we do our part to support healthy ecosystems on land.

The White Oak Initiative, a project of the DendriFund (an independent foundation created in 2012 by Brown-Forman and the Brown family), demonstrates how through partnership we can help elevate the impact and importance of the commitment to sustain supplies of this natural resource.

In addition, Woodford Reserve partnered with The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky (TNC) on a multi-year creekside restoration project on the property. We replanted the area along the creek bed upstream from the pond with native vegetation to attract pollinators. The restoration project also included native trees and shrubs, including the white oak used to make barrels for bourbon. The native plants act as a natural stormwater filter preventing pollutants from entering the stream, an important ecosystem service in this agricultural region, and improve water quality both in the pond and further downstream. We dedicated more than ten acres of land on the Woodford Reserve property to native grass restoration which is beneficial to the environment in providing a crucial habitat to many species of wildlife and birds, as well as nutrients for bees and butterflies.

Going forward, we will continue to focus on how to maximize our positive impacts and contribute to the achievement of these global goals.

OUR PARTNERS

Responsibility is about doing more together than we can on our own. We seek relationships with our partners where ideas and resources are shared to inform and implement 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. non-profit funded by the distilled spirits industry that works to eliminate drunk driving, prevent underage drinking, and promote responsible alcohol consumption. For Responsibility.org’s 25th anniversary they launched  Responsibility Starts With Me, a campaign whose goal is to spark a national conversation about alcohol responsibility.

Portman Group

In the U.K., we influence responsible marketing practices as a board member of the Portman Group, an organization representing leading alcohol producers. The Portman Group promotes a strict Code of Practice to ensure alcohol is marketed responsibly and not in a way that might appeal to those under the legal drinking age.

Ceres

Ceres is a non-profit organization that mobilizes investor and business leadership to build a thriving, sustainable global economy. Since joining in 2011, Brown-Forman has partnered with Ceres to engage with independent stakeholders on important environmental sustainability issues.

The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. Brown-Forman has partnered with the Kentucky Chapter of TNC since 1975, on projects ranging from stream restoration at the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, Kentucky, to promoting urban conservation at Brown-Forman’s headquarters in Louisville.

DrinkWise

In Australia, we are strong supporters of DrinkWise, a non-profit that promotes behavior change through informational and educational campaigns, including their campaigns aimed at parents as role models and influencers.

The Healing Place

The Healing Place in Louisville, Kentucky, reaches 700 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 non-profit 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, Kentucky, 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 Corporate Social Responsibility team to educate our employees on the disease of addiction.

Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign (HRCF) improves the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (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 since 2010, and continues to support the organization’s mission.

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

FISAC is a non-profit established in 1981 by leading producers of wine and spirits and mass media in Mexico. We partner with FISAC’s 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, KY, 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

For over 30 years, we’ve been a proud partner of Metro United Way, a pillar of the Louisville community dedicated to improving education, financial stability, and health for those in need. Our employees serve as board leaders and committee members and lead 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 18 years, helping end homelessness for families through our Louisville Family Housing Services.

Cover of the 2019 Annual Report2019 Annual and CR Report

2019 Annual and CR Report
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Cover of Brown-Forman 2019 Corporate Responsibility Scorecard
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