Last year saw a raft of CEOs from global drinks firms announce their intentions to either move on or retire. As the stories unfolded, it became clear that those of us hoping for more female leaders in the industry would potentially have to wait another ten years. 

Changes at the top include Constellation Brands’ Rob Sands, who will be replaced in March by current COO Bill Newlands, Beam Suntory’s Matt Shattock, to be succeeded by current COO & North America president Albert Baladi, Brown-Forman CEO Paul Varga, who was replaced at the start of the year, again by the group’s COO, Lawson Whiting and Edrington’s Ian Curle, who steps down in March to be succeeded by The Macallan MD Scott McCroskie.

Historically, the length of tenure in the top job appears to be around ten to 15 years. With that logic, Diageo’s Ivan Menezes is around the half-way mark, with Pernod Ricard’s Alexandre Ricard only just coming up on four years.

Meanwhile, at Bacardi, Mahesh Madhavan is just getting warmed up at a little over a year in the driving seat and The Coca-Cola Co’s James Quincey is yet to celebrate a second anniversary in the CEO role. (Note also that Quincey moved from the COO to CEO position). 

Indeed, most of last year’s changes comprised COOs moving up to CEO positions. It stands to reason, then, that a company needs to have enough women in C-suite jobs to pave the way to a female CEO. At Diageo, for example, six out of 15 executive committee members are women, while over at Beam Suntory, that number is one in 12. Of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s 18-strong leadership team, none are women.

It’s only fair at this point to highlight that there have been some tenacious female leaders, such as PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi. But when she stood down last year, she was one of only 25 female CEOs on the Fortune 500 list. 

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Earlier this month, Bloomberg published its Gender-Equality Index. The list has doubled in size since last year, recognising 230 companies “committed to advancing women in the workplace”.

The index is collated by companies voluntarily disclosing information on how they promote gender equality across four areas: company statistics, policies, community engagement and products and services. “Reporting companies that score above a globally-established threshold, based on the extent of their disclosures and the achievement of best-in-class statistics and policies, are included in the GEI,” Bloomberg said.

In drinks, this year’s list includes A-B InBev, Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola FEMSA, Danone, Diageo, Nestlé and Unilever.

It would be nice to think that in ten years time, we wouldn’t need such a thing as a gender equality index. Looking at the industry today, however, that doesn’t seem likely.

While I appreciate this is not a problem restricted to the drinks trade, the companies making and selling these products should better reflect the diversity of the people consuming them.