Fair & Square in conversation with the Sustainability Lead at Diageo Africa

Our guest on this episode of the Fair & Square podcast is Arnolda Shiundu, Sustainability Lead, Africa for Diageo, the global drinks giant. An award winning communications and sustainability expert who has worked in the public and private sectors, Arnolda oversees Diageo’s sustainability strategy in Africa. In her previous role as Head of Sustainability and Community Engagement at Diageo-owned Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL), Arnolda was responsible for developing and implementing the company’s pioneering sustainability agenda, which is also a blueprint for Diageo Africa and Diageo Global.

In conversation with our host Adam Batstone, Arnolda says successful businesses cannot be built in isolation from their communities and she highlights the importance of telling an effective story about sustainability, backed by measurable and proven outcomes.

Arnolda says while not labelled ‘recycling’, there was a long tradition in Africa of ‘repurposing things’, always looking for another use for something and giving things away rather than disposing of them.

In Ghana, Diageo, has established plastic buyback centres – Guinness Ghana Breweries | Where we operate | Diageo – creating jobs for local people in the community. They collect discarded plastic and bring it to the centre where they are paid and the plastic then gets recycled and reused. The project not only repurposes plastic – making senses from a business point of view – but through the payments helps the community support itself.

Arnolda points to the relevance of partnerships in the sustainability world and Diageo’s collaboration with governments on water stewardship, a vital ingredient for a drinks company but also to ensure safe water for communities.

She says companies must measure their sustainability activities to avoid accusations of greenwashing. “What doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get done,’ she says. She also tells Adam about the need for corporates to recognise the importance of ‘progressive portrayal’ in areas such as advertising.

Arnolda talks about the power of smalls steps in the sustainability world – like working with schools to encourage women engineers – and the danger of waiting for big things to get done causing inertia.

Finally she says Africa has a lot to teach the rest of the world about sustainability particular when it comes to looking after your neighbour by sharing today and using resources responsibly so your neighbour has something tomorrow.