This Women’s History Month, Constellation Brands kicked off the spring cohort of its Advancing Women Leaders Digital Academy (AWLDA). This program, designed in partnership with Linkage, Inc., is directly aligned with our Women's Leadership Development Program (WLDP), which supports the growth and development of female leaders at Constellation Brands through a year-long leadership development experience.

Our AWLDA program focuses directly on entry-level and mid-level women, providing an eight-week curriculum based on Linkage's research that identifies barriers to advancement and provides participants with corresponding competencies needed to overcome them.

To celebrate the continued success of our AWLDA and WLDP programs, we spoke with Constellation Brands’ leaders and a program participant about the importance of this work and how it has impacted their own development.

How does Constellation’s people strategy support the professional development and advancement of women at Constellation Brands?

Kirk Santos, Senior Vice President, Global Talent, Human Resources Leadership: Constellation Brands has long been dedicated to women's professional development. One way we do that is through our women-centric development programs where, in the past three years, nearly 200 women have participated. Each program targets specific leadership levels within Constellation. WLDP prepares Directors and newly appointed Vice Presidents for their next leadership roles with a deep and introspective focus on understanding and overcoming hurdles. AWLDA provides individual contributors, supervisors, and managers with a foundational understanding of these challenges.

Why is it important to support women at various career levels, specifically in the beverage alcohol industry?

The business case for advancing women is compelling. Studies conducted by McKinsey, Catalyst, Deloitte, World Economic Forum, and other organizations indicate that companies with women in top leadership positions outperform their peers by 50%. Organizations that invest in the advancement of women also experience increased innovation, effectiveness, employee retention, and customer satisfaction. We recognize the need to increase female representation within our industry not only as the right thing to do, but also a smart business decision. By supporting women at all career levels, Constellation can be a role model to the rest of the industry, ensuring that women have equal opportunities for advancement and leadership roles.

At Constellation, we’re consumer obsessed. With women making up a significant portion of the consumer base for beverage alcohol products, it’s imperative that we have diverse perspectives within the industry to better understand and meet the needs and preferences of the female consumer. This leads to more innovative and inclusive product offerings.

Supporting women in the beverage alcohol industry also aligns with our broader ESG initiatives. For example, our Focus on Female Founders program aims to directly increase female representation and access to funding in the industry by investing $100 million in female-led or female-founded companies by 2028.

What led to the creation of the AWLDA program?

Kristen Klanow, Deputy General Counsel, Legal: Constellation’s female development focused programs, like AWLDA and WLDP, focus on supporting and developing our female colleagues. As measured by the most recent McKinsey report on Women in the Workplace, women – especially women of color – remain underrepresented across the corporate pipeline.

AWLDA aims to foster productive discussions about development, highlighting the common pitfalls that may inhibit development and strategies to avoid or manage those common pitfalls. As reported by McKinsey, “women face their biggest hurdle at the first critical step up to manager.”

What professional hurdles does the AWLDA program help women overcome?

The AWLDA aims to equip participants with actionable steps and practices to overcome common hurdles women face in their development, including imposter syndrome, making the ask, and seeking clarity.

The program further fosters intracompany engagement by connecting women across various departments and stages of their careers. These types of efforts are exceedingly important in our disperse and hybrid work structure.

As the size of the Constellation’s AWLDA program has grown, we’ve used the forum to provide content aimed at continued development, professional and otherwise, even after the formal programs have concluded. For example, in 2023, we brought alumnae together to talk about their Constellation development experience as well as personal finance.

How has Constellation and WLDP helped you advance in your own career?

Jennifer Russell-Smith, Senior Vice President, Human Resources - Wine & Spirits, Human Resources Leadership: I have felt so supported by my leadership team, and Constellation, and was excited and grateful to be chosen to attend WLDP. The program helped me to understand myself better, build resiliency and courage, and think through things in a different way. I really appreciated the opportunity to meet and learn alongside other women at Constellation. What a great program!