next article

In praise of women: Diageo's Media Award

Stephane Gripon (R), general manager of Diageo Vietnam, presents bouquets to the judges of the "Media Award for Plan W" contest at a press briefing in Ho Chi Minh City October 15. Photo by Vinh Binh

Six months after rolling out its Plan W for empowering women through training, Diageo Vietnam on Tuesday joined hands with the Vietnam Journalists Association to launch an award for media stories about outstanding women.

The "Media Award for Plan W" will pay tribute to Vietnamese Women's Day (October 20) by highlighting the strength of Vietnamese women epitomized by their struggles to balance work and life, family responsibilities and personal pursuits.

Stephane Gripon, general manager of Diageo Vietnam, said the contest would enhance journalism in the country by encouraging positive images of Vietnamese women.

"It is also aimed at spotlighting these outstanding examples for society and creating a platform that will bring about positive changes to communities around the country."

Vietweek: Why is the Media Award limited to journalists and not the public as a whole? What impact do you think the contest will have?

Stephane Gripon: We believe that partnering with the media is a powerful initiative to bring change in our communities.

The Media Award is not necessarily for the winner. There would be a winner, but I think all the pieces are likely to be very inspiring and touch the hearts of people. I think the biggest prize is to be able to influence society and promote gender equality.

The Media Award is an effort by Diageo to support community development by bringing to the limelight outstanding women in society. In the media, women journalists are disadvantaged compared to their male counterparts. Do you have any advice for women journalists and Vietnamese women in general for balancing work and life? 

Journalism is one of the most interesting jobs I know since journalists have the power to influence the community through their work. Women journalists are one of the key forces in bringing about greater gender equality in Vietnam. I think journalists will find interesting women in many spheres and in different roles who can be a role model for millions of women.

We have talked a lot about empowering women, but empowering only becomes fruitful when the women are confident about themselves and value themselves. 

Do you think launching Plan W in Vietnam will take a major effort since there is still a big gender gap in Vietnam? For example, do you think women participating in bartending programs can pursue a career as a bartender?

There is still a big gap between the two genders in Vietnam. It will be a major task and much work needs to be done to have an impact.

The entire society needs to join hands to usher in sustainable changes. For example, Diageo has worked with partners like the Center for Social Initiatives Promotion and British Council to run our gender agenda.

In the general perception, bartending is not a suitable career for women. But, as we see, there are many women who have won awards in major bartending contests. Their achievements will slowly remove the barriers.


Pham Quoc Toan, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Journalists Association and head of the jury, said at the press briefing that Vietnamese women are participating more in the economy, gradually improving their role and position in society.

"I believe the contest will get a lot of support from journalists across the country."

Do Thi Thanh Nha, deputy chairwoman of the Hanoi Journalists Association and editor-in-chief of Phu Nu Thu Do newspaper, also expressed enthusiasm as a jury member.

"This is an initiative for journalists to express their love for Vietnamese women, their mothers and sisters."

Nha said the topic of Vietnamese women is one that every reporter must have touched at least one in their career since it is not only about beauty: women have also been working to help build society.

She said there are examples of outstanding women everywhere, and "this is a chance for us to admire the sparkling beauty of women through journalists' stories."

If they have passion, confidence in themselves, and a desire to learn, women bartenders can be on a par with their male colleagues.

Diageo has set itself a target of having women in 30 percent of leadership positions. Do you think it is achievable since women still have many barriers to overcome to fully commit to careers? What is the plan for Vietnam?

We believe in empowering women to achieve business success. We have set a target of 30 percent of leadership positions to be filled by women in our company. This is a global target. In Asia, we are refocusing our efforts in this area.

Diageo is a leader in promoting gender diversity and has the largest number of women board members in the FTSE100. Five women sit on the APAC executive board with roles in regional leadership, innovation, supply, HR, and legal. In Vietnam, four out of nine members of my leadership team are women - these are the women to watch, they will shape the business in the region and in Vietnam.

Diageo Vietnam's leadership is accountable for diversity and inclusion; both are integrated throughout its HR systems.

We launched Plan W in Vietnam on March 7, 2013. But we have been on this journey for many years. For example, we have run a number of training programs for employees on work-life balance and workplace rights and safety. We have also relaunched our LinkedIn page to ensure we present a balanced picture that will attract more women.


Stephane Gripon (R), general manager of Diageo Vietnam, and Pham Quoc Toan (L), vice chairman of Vietnam Journalists Association, present bouquets to Dang Ai Viet, a painter who won a Vietnam Women's Association Award for her 1,000 portraits of Heroic Mothers


Diageo Vietnam and Vietnam Journalists Association jointly held a media briefing on the contest "Media Award for Plan W" in Ho Chi Minh City, and it was attended by Dang Ai Viet, 65, a woman painter who recently won an award from the Vietnam Women's Association and set an Asian Record after creating 1,000 portraits of Vietnamese Heroic Mothers whose sons died in war.

Stories, photos, and videos are to be submitted between October 20 and December 20 to Nguoi Lam Bao newspaper, 226/2 Le Van Sy Street, Tan Binh District, HCMC or emailed to

Pham Quoc Toan, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Journalists Association, will head the award jury which will also comprise Do Thi Thanh Nha, member of the Hanoi Women's Association Standing Committee, and Nguyen Hoang Hue Linh, communications manager of Diageo Vietnam.

Awards worth VND60 million (US$2,845) in all will be given away on January 7.

The contest is part of the five-year-long Plan W for which Diageo Vietnam is providing US$756,000 to empower women in the company, in the hospitality industry through a bartender training program and CSR activities, and in local communities by partnering with local NGOs to deliver skills-based training and provide funding for marginalized women to start their own businesses.