Yorkshire born Glenn Caton took up the post of president for Northern Europe at Mondelez International in October 2016. He talks to BQ about the support that Mondelez provides to its local communities and employees and what makes the company a multi-national with a heart.
How does Mondelez give back to the community?
We are passionate about giving back to the local communities where we operate - this was the ethos of the Cadbury Brothers when they first set up the business and is part of ours today. Primarily we support our local communities through grants from The Cadbury Foundation and the time, skills and expertise of our people through volunteering.
The Cadbury Foundation has a rich heritage and was established in 1935 in recognition of our company founders’ investment in the welfare of their employees and communities, and it has gone from strength to strength ever since. I was very proud to join the trustee board in 2015 and then become chairman in 2016 – joining a strong lineage of leaders, including many of the Cadbury family.
Like all businesses, we have to focus our resources and we look to support charities and projects in the areas of wellbeing, skills and the passions of our employees.
Our award-winning Health for Life programme is our flagship wellbeing programme and has been inspiring over 90,000 school children, teachers and community groups across Birmingham to lead healthier lifestyles over the last five years.
Likewise, our Taste of Work programme, which has also received industry recognition, aims to foster the next generation of food and grocery talent, opening the doors to our business and the truly diverse careers available.
Recognising and supporting the passions of our employees is a key element of our community programme. Our colleagues raise a huge amount of money for hundreds of local charities close to their hearts each year – over £150,000 in 2017! So as well as a match funding programme, we give our employees the opportunity to vote for where they want to see additional funding directed in their local community, through ‘Your Charity Your Choice’.
But it’s not just about money. We encourage all our employees to take time out of their day to share their time, skills and expertise within their local community through volunteering. This could be anything from teams undertaking general maintenance or gardening at a local community centre to mentoring and sharing career advice with young people one to one. Last year nearly 1,200 employees gave over 6,500 hours of time and it’s important we continue to make such an impact on our local communities.
I took my own Leadership team to DASH – a local charity in Hillingdon near our office in Uxbridge. DASH provides a wide range of services for local people with disabilities and we got stuck into their weekly street dance session! It was a great couple of hours and for many of the group it was way out of their comfort zone, but it gave the carers some respite and a chance for the beneficiary group to interact with some new characters.
How does this benefit Mondelez as a business?
For us, having a positive impact on both people and planet is not only at the core of who we are, but is key to accelerating our growth. Our global strategy ‘Impact for Growth’ demonstrates our commitment to driving business growth with positive change in the world; from cocoa farmers in Ghana to communities around our Bournville factory.
It’s vitally important that we encourage and facilitate opportunities for our employees to support the communities where they work and live, raise families and send their children to school.
Feedback from employees shows that they engage with volunteering not only to give back to the local community but to leverage and develop new skills, build relationships with their peers and senior leaders within the business. It also supports team building and motivates employees, giving them a real sense of ownership and pride for the business they work for.
More and more people are actively seeking out employers who are invested in the success of their people, their local communities and the world at large. People want to know that they’re working for something bigger than their wage packet at the end of the month, especially the younger generation joining the business.
From CEO to factory floor, ensuring we grow our impact in our local communities is at the heart of who we are and I really believe it differentiates our business from others. Each month in our Leadership team meeting we track our progress against annual KPI’s and celebrate the impact we are making in our communities with our colleagues. We care about the impact we are having on the world around us.
We want to lead the way and show how businesses can, and should, operate. Research shows that volunteering within your working day can increase staff retention, whilst attracting new talent. Our work in this area also promotes a positive profile for our business and our industry along with other businesses within the region. It means we can connect with stakeholders and clearly demonstrate our investment within the community.
Why it is important for a company to give back to the community which serves it?
As Quakers the Cadbury brothers supported their employees and local community around the Bournville factory. Today we strive to keep that ethos alive and are keenly aware of our responsibility as a local employer.
There are many charities within our communities – many of whom are small and don’t often get a helping hand with funding or volunteers, so it’s important not to overlook them. A recent case was when Cerebral Palsy Midlands was given a cash boost of £3,000 through the Your Charity Your Choice scheme. One of our Bournville plant operatives, Malcolm Lilly, applied for the donation as the cause was so close to his heart and home.
His daughter Vicky attends the centre daily, which is based in Harborne. There she joins dozens of other people who learn vital life skills. Alongside being taught to cook, read and write, the group also promotes health and wellbeing and runs regular events such as music, arts and crafts.
The lovely part about this story is that Malcolm’s other daughter, Sarah, is the development officer for the charity. Sarah also benefits from seeing her sister being given a better quality of life from the incredible work the staff and volunteers at the centre do. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that we were able to help not just the charity, but a colleague and his family who live locally.
Why should other businesses do the same?
Quite simply – it’s good for business! Who doesn’t want to demonstrate that they are a responsible business? Today there are very few who don’t invest in some shape or form and that’s great to see. Through the Cadbury Foundation and inspiring ethos of the Cadbury brothers all those years ago, I am proud that we continue to build our rich heritage investing in our people and our communities.
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