A touchstone of working at Brown-Forman is the belief that our company has thrived because of our long-term perspective. The Issues Forum is an extension of that point of view.
The Issues Forum shares our perspectives on critical alcohol-related issues and invites the comments, opinions, and ideas that you or others may have.
It is our view that, enjoyed responsibly, beverage alcohol enriches the experience of life for many. Hence we promote our brands responsibly and encourage responsible consumption, knowing that beverage alcohol plays a part in enhancing the lives of the vast majority of those who choose to drink in moderation.
We are also keenly aware that, used irresponsibly, alcohol can result in harm to individuals, society, and our business. We work hard to discourage irresponsible consumption, and especially do not want to see our products consumed by any individuals who engage in harmful behaviors such as binge drinking or drunk driving, or who are not of legal drinking age. It is in the best interests of our company, consumers, and society at large for us to work proactively to reduce the abuse of alcohol and the resulting harmful effects.
There are complex, controversial, and sometimes emotionally-charged issues associated with the irresponsible consumption of alcohol. The Issues Forum is one of the ways in which we can step up and contribute to a balanced discourse on these important topics. By sharing our “thinking about drinking,” we hope to encourage ongoing discussion, debate, and solutions directed at reducing the abuse and irresponsible consumption of beverage alcohol.
We view The Issues Forum as a strong next step in our leadership in responsibility-focused efforts. This is a heritage which dates back more than 75 years, to the role of Owsley Brown I as the founder and first president of what is now the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, Inc. (DISCUS), a trade association with a long-held commitment to responsibility in its legislative and policy work at the state, national, and international levels.Over the decades, Brown-Forman has maintained a lead role in responsibility-focused partnerships and initiatives – from the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) and The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) in the United States to The Portman Group in the United Kingdom, and the European Forum for Responsible Drinking (EFRD). (For more information on these efforts, please see http://www.brown-forman.com/responsibility.)
Our tradition of leadership and engagement in responsibility-focused organizations reflects our philosophy that the problems we face are too complex and interconnected to solve in isolation. Dialogue and partnerships promote better understanding of the positive role alcohol can play in society, and help to curb the harm caused by abuse or irresponsible consumption of beverage alcohol.
Our core belief in the value of long-term perspective has yielded five principles that underlie and guide our strategy to encourage responsible consumption of our brands, and likewise, to discourage irresponsible consumption. We believe that our living of these principles affords us the commercial freedom to operate over the long term. These principles also underlie and guide our approach to The Issues Forum.
Being responsible in everything we do is a driver of our business success. It is a source of opportunity, innovation, and growth. Therefore, an endeavor such as The Issues Forum represents an ongoing investment in the high priority we place on responsibility – not only in how we conduct ourselves as a corporate and community citizen, but also our beliefs and point of view on critical issues.
As a beverage alcohol company, we hold ourselves to high standards of responsible behavior. We give employees the tools, knowledge, and support to make the right choices at work and at home. We believe the best and most constructive messaging is straightforward talk that rings true, regardless of the audience. Our employees, interested parties, and key stakeholders deserve to know where we stand on significant issues, and to see the research and considerations informing our public policy perspectives.
The voices of our brands and our company have the power to influence consumer attitudes and behaviors. Both independently and in partnership with consumers, communities, and key stakeholders, we bring creativity, energy, and passion to the promotion of responsible drinking. Fundamental to The Issues Forum concept is the fact that this is a “living” Web-based document which we hope will inspire discourse, as well as direct constructive energies toward encouraging those who choose to drink to do so responsibly. We view this as a vehicle of current and lasting visibility for responsibility and rights issues which have been and continue to be a priority for Brown-Forman.
Reducing the irresponsible consumption or abuse of beverage alcohol—and the related harmful effects—requires the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders. We are doing our part to rise to this challenge and are stepping up to lead and act with others to bring about positive change. We understand that any policy position we take, however well-intentioned or well-reasoned, is a position which may prompt challenge – or even criticism – from other stakeholders. We see this as an important, arguably essential, part of the process. Our company has a strong commitment to leadership – whether in the context of how we operate as a business, or how we contribute to discussion and debate in the policy arena. We welcome all interested parties to join in the discussion of the critical issues addressed by The Issues Forum.
Engagement and transparency in our decisions and actions has always helped us earn the trust of our stakeholders. Knowing that we don’t have all the answers, we seek balanced and evidence-based insights and information. In 2007, Brown-Forman issued its first Corporate Responsibility Report, encompassing the company’s commitment to social, environmental, civic, financial, and personal responsibilities. Our second Report was published in 2009. The Issues Forum represents another extension of our willingness to go on record as a company which places high priority on responsibility and rights – and as a stakeholder investing in what it takes to be part of the solution in reducing the harmful effects of alcohol abuse.
The process of going on record with The Issues Forum will require us to seek balanced, evidence-based information, and insights on an ongoing basis – a practice which we hope will help inform our Issues Forum audience. In the spirit of being part of the solution, we will strive to take note of an expanse of opinions, including those we may not share. We will also strive to acknowledge a broad range of research findings on the issues we address, even those which we might question, or which don’t necessarily support our point of view.
The issue briefs posted on this site are just that—brief overviews reporting on topics which are in-depth and complex. Our intention is to offer a general sense of these issues, the related bodies of research, the extent of debate, and what kinds of approaches may show promise in curtailing irresponsible consumption and encouraging responsible drinking.
This is, by definition, a transparent, living document. The same content and views will be shared with all who see it. Thank you for visiting and being a part of our Issues Forum community.
For more information from Brown-Forman-supported organizations with a commitment to responsibility, see:
International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD): www.iard.org
Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS): www.discus.org
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility: www.responsibility.org
European Forum for Responsible Drinking (EFRD): www.efrd.org
The Alcoholic Beverage Industry Alliance of Puerto Rico (ABIA): www.abiapr.com
The Portman Group: http://www.portman-group.org.uk
The Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia: www.dsica.com.au
DrinkWise, Australia: www.drinkwise.com.au
Fundacion De Investigaciones Sociales (FISAC), Mexico: www.fisac.org.mx