Helping Others Find Their Feet

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Helping Others Find Their Feet

From the day she first gave thought to charting out a career, Seema Sukumar, Vice President and Senior Legal Counsel, Head of Business Integrity at Diageo India, was determined that it would be in the pursuit of law. Since then, she has garnered immense experience and insights into the legal world especially pertaining to the alcoholic beverages sector. Seema is now a mentor to many women who would like to find a footing in this industry.

It was a study of the Constitution of India in high school which made the first impression in the then future career of Seema Sukumar, by igniting her passion for law. Being a first-generation lawyer and considering there were limited opportunities during college placements in her college days, securing a position at a reputable law firm was difficult for her. Persistence and dedication eventually led her to a fulfilling role, where Seema not only excelled in delivering the goods but also in building a robust client network.

Progressing to partnership at a leading law firm marked a significant milestone. From establishing the Bengaluru office of a national firm and thereafter venturing into the challenging alcoholic beverages sector during the first Covid-triggered lockdown, her journey has been dynamic. Joining Diageo provided opportunities to contribute to complex merger and acquisition transactions and leading the business integrity function of the company amidst unprecedented circumstances. “Though being empowering, my legal career has presented challenges, including gender bias and navigating unfamiliar territories during the lockdowns,” she admits.

Gender-friendly Moves


Seema’s commitment to individualistic values stems from the belief in everyone’s right to chart their unique path. Acknowledging the challenges women face, she aims to empower them by fostering an environment that embraces diversity. In both personal and professional spheres, Seema encourages women to trust their instincts and pursue their passions. As a Spirited Women’s Network lead at Diageo, she is dedicated to providing a platform for women to thrive, feel valued and supported. “My mission is to create a space where women feel empowered to take ownership of their lives and pursue their goals,” she says. Narrating her experiences in India’s alcoholic beverages sector, Seema opines that it is undergoing a transformative shift, while challenging cultural stigmas. In recent years, the industry has seen an increase in women holding management, leadership, sales, research and development roles, and even working as bartenders. Diageo India’s female representation rose from 7.5 percent in 2015 to 27 percent in 2023, reflecting the impact of inclusive policies, women in leadership, and a commitment to diversity. “Progressive portrayals in brand stories and campaigns highlight women, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and differently-abled persons. Learning programmes and employee resource groups further support women’s upskilling, engagement, and development,” observes Seema.

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