Fireside Chat: Placing Social Sustainability at the Heart of our Business Strategy
  • Investing in social impact programs and empowering communities are essential for corporations to create long-term value
  • Creating strong partnerships is key for successful societal programs
  • Discussing learnings from Diageo North America’s ‘Society 2030:Spirit of Progress’ journey to help create a more inclusive and sustainable world

Jayant Kairam
VP, Society and ESG
Diageo North America

Jayant “Jay” Kairam is a seasoned corporate affairs and public policy leader who has successfully driven innovative, inclusive and high-impact ESG campaigns and programmatic initiatives for some of the largest companies, environmental NGOs and governments across the US.

Jay is Vice President, Society (ESG) for Diageo North America and leads the execution of the industry-leading Society 2030: Spirit of Progress agenda. He is responsible for delivery of corporate targets that promote responsibility, inclusion and diversity, and sustainability and advances trusts with local stakeholders, elected officials and national NGOs and associations. Under Jay’s stewardship, Diageo has accelerated programs in North America to reach millions of consumers with a message “drink better, not more” and to tackle the harms associated with impaired driving. He leads the team that is bringing a hospitality-focused job readiness program, Learning Skills for Life, to thousands of individuals in national markets and is making critical, multi-million-dollar investments in tackling educational equity at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions and providing direct charitable giving to communities. Jay helps lead the team that is designing the operational and investment strategy to decarbonize the North American footprint and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. As an expert on ESG issues and politics, he provides counsel and strategic vision to North American and global leadership on how best to position Diageo publicly and mutually advance social and business objectives.

Prior to Diageo, Jay led environmental policy and strategy for Walmart. He oversaw cross-functional teams to design the company’s public policy positions on various environmental challenges like climate change, biodiversity, plastic pollution and designed multi-level engagement strategies with policymakers, trade associations and NGOs. He represented Walmart at the COP26 negotiations, and presented for Members of Congress, the Biden Administration, and numerous State-level lawmakers. During his tenure, Walmart’s status as a climate and environmental policy leader was noted by key investor groups like Climate Action 100, numerous advocacy organizations, and key reputation trackers like Influence Map.

Before moving to the private sector, Jay served in leadership roles in local government and for national environmental nonprofits. He was Director of Programs for the National Association of Counties and helped raise over $10M in major philanthropic support. Jay served as a Senior Advisor and Deputy Commissioner in the Bloomberg Administration, leading major reforms to the city’s privately-owned waste management operations and initiating policies to dramatically address air and noise pollution and accelerate composting. As lead for Environmental Defense Fund’s clean energy campaign in California, he oversaw strategic advocacy at the legislature and utility regulator to advance the state towards a clean energy future.

He is a graduate of Vassar College and the Harvard Kennedy School and is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer. Jay is an active community member and sits on the board of the Anacostia Watershed Society, a local conservation organization, and Fuse Corps, a national nonprofit working to improve capacity and performance in local government. He lives in Washington DC with his wife and daughter.