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Diageo CEO receives knighthood

Ivan Menezes, CEO of Diageo, and Scotch whisky veteran Jim McEwan have been recognised in the King’s 2023 New Year Honours list.

Ivan Menezes has been CEO at Diageo since 2013

Menezes was given the title of knight bachelor for services to business and equality, while McEwan was awarded an MBE for services to the Scotch whisky industry and the community in Islay, Scotland.

McEwan’s career began at the age of 15 in 1963 as an apprentice cooper at Islay’s Bowmore distillery. He retired from Islay distillery Bruichladdich in 2005, after 15 years as master distiller, and rejoined the industry in 2017 to help revive Ardnahoe Distillery on the Scottish island.

Menezes became CEO of Diageo in July 2013, having joined the company in 1997.

Diageo said the CEO has transformed the firm into the ‘world’s leading premium drinks company, accounting for 10% (£2 billion) of the UK’s total food and drinks exports’.

“I am incredibly honoured to receive this award on behalf of my 28,000 colleagues in Diageo,” Menezes said. “Their creativity, passion and drive has enabled Diageo, a British company, to become a truly global leader, making a positive contribution to the communities we serve.

“Everyone at Diageo is committed to shaping a more sustainable and inclusive business and society and I am very proud to accept this honour in recognition of what has been achieved so far.”

Menezes has championed equality at the company, with 42% of Diageo’s senior leadership positions globally held by women, while 37% are ethnically diverse.

Diageo is aiming to have 45% representation of leaders from ethnically diverse backgrounds by 2030, and have 50% of all leadership roles occupied by women as part of its Society 2030: Spirit of Progress plan.

In June 2020, Diageo pledged US$20 million to help black communities and businesses in the US that have been impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) chief executive Mark Kent welcomed the announcement, describing Menezes’ knighthood as “richly deserved”.

“Throughout his years on the SWA Council, most recently serving as chair, he has helped drive the industry’s sustainability ambitions, its work on increasing diversity and inclusion, and efforts to protect and promote Scotch whisky around the world,” said Kent.

“Throughout his decade at the helm of Diageo, Sir Ivan has played a leading role in the boosting the global success of Scotch whisky, and laying the foundations for an even more prosperous future.

“Sir Ivan embodies the spirit of the Scotch whisky industry, as does Jim McEwan, also recognised with an MBE for his services to the Scotch whisky industry and Islay.”

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