Empowering our employees for a greater good

Bertrand Austruy, Executive Vice President, Human Resources & General Secretary, tells us more about Danone’s strategy to empower its 100,000+ employees around the world.

During the month of June, Danone organized three worldwide events specifically for its employees. Few other global companies go this far to engage employees and empower them. Why is this so important to you?

People today expect more from the company they work for than ever before. Not just the products and services they offer, but the contribution they make to society too. This is not new to us. At Danone, we have nurtured a meaningful, multicultural and multinational workplace thanks to the talent and energy of our thousands of employees, who share the same passion to co-create a new future and a better world.

To fuel this mindset, we chose to put in place several ambitious, recurring events that encourage bonding values and help us to make the company’s vision a reality.

Let’s take for instance the Danoners World Cup created in 1997. During this mixed, internal soccer tournament held every two years, men and women from all over the world gather together for three intense days. It’s an extraordinary opportunity to build and consolidate the links between employees by promoting values such as team-spirit and positive emulation through a competitive and eye-opening experience outside the workplace.

Celebrating teams as well as individuals’ successes and learning from disappointments to make the best out of it: this is how we can create a collective energy and positive thinking. It’s a change from video conferencing and it encourages people to get active, be healthy and practice sports!

How do you leverage these internal events to transmit the company’s values and vision?

Our employees and teams all across the world want to play an active role in their communities. Therefore, to give scale to our people initiatives, we launched Volunteering Month two years ago. This is a tangible way to live and breathe our ‘One Planet. One Health’ vision. This year, our employees engaged for instance through skill-based sponsorships, participating in workshops with organizations such as Siel Bleu, a non-profit partner of the Danone Ecosystem Fund that focuses on developing preventive solutions through physical exercise for elderly people in nursing homes, or Programme Malin, a French association supported by Danone Communities that helps low income families to have access to nutritious foods. They also went out and cleaned up beaches, set up urban gardens and ran races to raise funds for great causes and make a difference locally. For me, Volunteering Month is a powerful engagement lever that is fulfilling both for Danoners and local communities.

Likewise, the Danone Day that we have organized the past four years aims at empowering all Danoners to become actors of the company’s vision. Once a year, on the same day in all countries, 100,000+ Danoners take the time to connect and to celebrate, and to focus on future objectives together. We also capitalize on this special day to take a moment, hit the pause button and proudly acknowledge the past year's achievements globally and locally.

The 2018 edition was a key moment to internally affirm our commitment to our 2030 goals and emphasize the newly introduced One Person, One Voice, One Share program.

Can you tell us more about the One Person, One Voice, One Share program? How are you going to bring it to life and what are the main objectives of this very innovative initiative?

With One Person, One Voice, One Share, we are entering another dimension: we are talking about crafting a truly innovative governance framework on a worldwide scale. In my opinion, the launch of this long-term initiative will remain as a major milestone in Danone’s history. I am very excited about it, but it is also a great responsibility to roll out such an ambitious project.

This pioneering program begins with the belief that each Danoner has a pivotal role to play within the company and within local communities. We really think that together, we can be a catalyst for change. That is why it was so important for us to find a concrete way of entrusting Danone’s people, allowing each of our employees to co-own the company’s agenda and our goals, in order to co-create the future.

Firstly, “One Voice” will provide all our employees with opportunities to actively participate in defining roadmaps to bring the 2030 goals to life. In simple terms, Danoners will have access to an internal platform providing sharing and learning resources. They will be asked a number of very practical questions and consulted to discuss their local business in order to co-build our strategic agenda.

Secondly, we will deepen the ownership mindset of each person at Danone thanks to ”One Share”. By next year, each employee will be granted one Danone share combined with a dividend-based incentive scheme.

We believe that the One Person, One Voice, One Share program will create a very positive dynamic and foster an ownership mindset for all our employees, which is the best way to align everyone’s interests for the long-term.