27 July 2016

Sustainable Food Chain

Sustainable food chain? Viewpoints from corporate and entrepreneurial firms
Thursday June 18 the Nyenrode Alumni Circles Sustainability and Agrofood organized an evening about ‘sustainability in the food supply chain’. Interestingly, the two speakers came from two different worlds: Anniek Mauser is from the corporate environment as CSR Director Unilver Benelux and Henk Jan Beltman is the ‘mosquito in the tent’ (Chief Chocolate Officer at Tony’s Chocolonely).

Passion and Leadership are requirements for Corporate Social Responsibility
A clear similarity between Anniek’s and Henk Jan’s stories is their passion to make a difference. They made it very clear that they believed in what they are doing. They also agreed on the value of leadership: organizations will only move towards sustainability when top management shows time and time again this is the strategic direction for the company.

Different business case approaches can work
The speakers have different viewpoints on the business case for sustainable measures. For Henk Jan, it is imperative for Tony’s to make a profit: that’s part of the fun! But when it comes to paying a premium to cocoa farmers in Ghana, Tony’s offers a much higher premium than other chocolate manufacturers. They do this because it’s important. Not because they want to try to minimize the premium to optimize results.
For Anniek, a business case for any sustainability initiative in the business is a mandatory requirement. Unilever is a multinational owned by their shareholders, they demand a business case for any investment. Besides, profitability is a necessary requirement to keep up the (large) investments that Unilever makes in sustainable projects for the coming years.

Employee Engagement challenge for corporates
For Henk Jan, it is relatively easy to engage employees because Tony’s is such a mission-driven company (their mission is 100% slave free chocolate).
For Anniek, creating personal relevance of the Sustainable Living Plan for individual employees is a key challenge. She uses the Unilever model of ‘5 levers for change’ to tackle this challenge.

In the practice of Heartbeat Strategy we often see companies struggle with engaging employees with their CSR policies. How is that in your company? Do you think the 5 levers of change could help? I’m curious to hear how that is managed in your companies and whether it works!

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