In this month’s member interview series we feature Martin Brown, General Manager of Confectionery at Nestlé Australia. Martin shares his experience with shared value and the role he plays in finding opportunities in the heart of Nestlé operations, and sharing commitments with employees – in particular around the Nestlé Cocoa Plan and the procurement of sustainable cocoa. This follows the recent recognition Nestlé has received as the #1 food company of the Fortune Change the World list.
What does shared value mean to you?
Shared value at Nestlé is a win/win, where we contribute to solving a community challenge whilst creating shareholder value. We find these opportunities in the heart of our operations where we make a long term commitment to sustainable solutions.
What lead you individually to the shared value idea? How did you come across it?
As General Manager of Nestlé Confectionery, the future sustainability of cocoa farming is a compelling challenge for my business. We believe in going to the source of a challenge to understand it. My first trip to Cote d’Ivoire in 2011 gave me a deeper understanding and passion for making a difference by leading in sourcing certified sustainable cocoa. In 2013, we became the only major manufacturer in Australia using 100% sustainable cocoa. I returned this year and have been motivated by the improvements already achieved in income and living conditions.
What does shared value success look like in Nestlé Oceania and where are you at on the journey?
For the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, success looks like cocoa farming communities improving their incomes and their social living conditions, particularly access to schooling, clean water and sanitation. It absolutely means a zero tolerance to child labour. At the same time, success looks like an environmentally sound, steady supply of quality cocoa.
We are making good progress on this journey, but there is considerable work left to do. With 40 schools built in communities around the co-operatives Nestlé is working with, we are making good progress on providing closer access for kids to go to school. Through the distribution of 10 million high yielding disease resistant cocoa plantlets, we are boosting the economic potential of cocoa farms through rejuvenating crops.
What is your role individually within Nestlé Oceania to support the company along its shared value journey?
As General Manager, it has been my responsibility to accelerate our procurement of Utz certified sustainable cocoa for 100% of our locally manufactured chocolate brands since the end of 2013. It is also my responsibility to engage with local and international stakeholders to communicate our shared value commitments and build understanding for the collective efforts needed to address the complex challenges in cocoa. It is also key that I share our shared value commitments with our own employees to ensure that Creating Shared Value is understood as how we do business.
How has practicing shared value helped you individually in your role, department, or career more generally?
I have learned more about the end to end supply chain and built a greater understanding of the interdependency of business and community. Creating Shared Value isn’t simply part of the social license to operate, this is good business strategy engaging communities in partnering for sustainable development.
What do you think are some pertinent issues in Australia that could be solved through creating shared value?
We are facing a future crisis in health funding and a growing incidence of non-communicable diseases. How we jointly tackle the challenges of building knowledge and understanding that is translated into community wide healthier habits is a very important shared value opportunity for our community, business and government. We are committed to Creating Shared Value in this challenge.