Heineken UK takes Pride in its diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts

Drinks companies must ‘walk the walk’ of inclusivity, before they can rightfully ‘talk the talk’ in their corporate statements and promotional material.

So said Heineken UK’s people director, Marta Martins Pinto, ahead of the brewers’ public display of LGBTQIA+ support at this year’s Brighton & Hove Pride parade.

Marta described joining that event as part of Heineken UK’s ‘continuous efforts’ to be one of the most inclusive companies in the UK, and was not something to be taken lightly, however festive the event might otherwise have appeared.

“For the past few years, we’ve put significant focus on our role as an inclusive company and to take part in Brighton Pride is a huge milestone, and one that our people are rightly proud of,” she said. “It recognises what we’ve achieved so far, but also recognises there is still much work to be done, and therefore it’s a statement of our commitment to continue to take action and make change.

“It’s all too easy for organisations to add a Progress flag to their logo,” she added. “The important part is that action has actually happened, internally and externally. We must walk the walk, before we talk the talk.”

Heineken UK could not be accused of only paying lip service to its DE&I agenda. Much of its effort so far has been internal, making sure that everyone on its staff feels they can ‘be their true selves when they come to work’.

This has involved establishing five colleague networks over the last four years covering LGBTQIA+, Race and Ethnicity, Gender, Enable – which focuses on disability in the workplace – and Age Inclusion.

Externally, the company’s brands, which include Strongbow, Heineken, Inch’s and Birra Moretti, are increasing visibility of DE&I in their external communications, thanks to the Heineken Collective – a ‘community of colleagues’ dedicated to building a more inclusive marketing ecosystem across.

This collective has already led to a marketing collaboration between Strongbow and Purple Goat, a specialist disability agency; a media partnership with PinkNews; and neuro-diverse focused out-of-home advertising for brands including Inch’s cider.

Specifically on LGBTQIA+, the brewer has put in place the Heineken Open and Proud (HOP) network, which provides a safe space for colleagues to ask questions or gain advice, and has since held Pride events at its Edinburgh and London offices.

Heineken UK has also recently teamed up with the pub operator, Stonegate, to carry out research looking specifically at how pubs and bars can work to be even more inclusive.


Next month SLTN will host an event on the subject of promoting Inclusivity in Whisky, amongst both the industry’s workers and its customers.

Being held in partnership with Master of Malt Trade and The Drink Cabinet ‘In Conversation with SLTN: Inclusivity in Whisky’ will take place at Citation, Glasgow, on 4th September.

To find out more, go to sltn.co.uk