Leading global premium drinks company Diageo recently announced the launch of a new fund that will support women in China by providing them with a wide range of learning opportunities designed to improve their social and economic status. Entitled the Plan W Fund, the new program was announced at a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing and is partnered with the China Women’s Development Foundation (CWDF). This project reflects an increase in luxury companies pursuing China-specific philanthropic activities following a global trend of brands becoming increasingly aware of a rising demand among wealthy consumers for corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Diageo China plans to donate 1 million yuan ($ 163,000) to the fund annually over the next five years, which would benefit an estimated 100,000 women across the country. Diageo will work with CWDF to design and implement training and employment programs to support Chinese women in need. In the first year, the fund will offer 1,000 women in Jiangsu and Sichuan provinces vocational training after a survey carried out by the Chinese Women’s Research Society in 2010 found that unemployed women, migrant women, landless female farmworkers, and single female parents now make up the majority of China’s “new poor.” The fund plans to specifically target such groups and place greater emphasis on their empowerment.
Diageo has long been committed to supporting local communities in China. We hope that the fund will provide women across China with similar opportunities to grow,” said Lin Menuhin, the Corporate Relations Director of Diageo Greater China.
In recent years, philanthropic activities have been seen as an important strategy by more and more international brands in China to build a good public image, especially when art and culture are involved. The most recent case is the donation of two bronze zodiac heads to China by François-Henri Pinault, owner of Christie’s and CEO of luxury-goods conglomerate Kering. Earlier in June, German fashion label Hugo Boss announced that it would partner with Shanghai-based Rockbund Art Museum to launch the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award for emerging Chinese artists. Art sponsorship has proven to be a particularly popular philanthropic activity with luxury brands, as Italian luxury house Bottega Veneta also recently launched an exhibition named featuring the work of young emerging Chinese artists and photographers. Since 2010, Mercedes-Benz China has been running its Star Fund charity to aid environmental protection, music, arts, sports, education, and disaster relief. Upon its one-year anniversary, Shang Xia, a Chinese luxury brand backed by French fashion house Hermès, has turned luxury to philanthropy, using Weibo to spread the word about children in need.
According to the China Luxury Forecast 2010 by Albatross Global Solutions and Ruder Finn Asia, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) isn’t just good PR in China—it’s perhaps the best form of advertising. The report also found out that a global luxury brand’s CSR would make an impact on the choice of China’s luxury consumers to purchase its goods. We can predict more international luxury and fashion brands would get involved in philanthropic activities in the next few years, especially during the period of China’s campaign to promote frugality and smash corruption, which are hitting sales of luxury goods.