People Planet Profit
A look at Nestlé’s Responsible Sourcing Studio in Thailand
I recently had the pleasure of being involved in Nestlé’s Responsible Sourcing Studio in Thailand. Led by Benjamin Ware, Nestlé’s Global Head of Responsible Sourcing, the Studio was an induction boot camp for nine newly installed Responsible Sourcing Team members.
Benjamin said his purpose was for the team to suffer and he duly organised a challenging agenda to mimic the life each team member faces in their work with Nestlé procurement teams around the world.
We had early rises and late finishes with plane, car and boat rides in between. The team cut sugar cane and harvested palm oil fruits, travelled on a fishing boat and spoke to many people to get a glimpse of the lives of those folk living at the far reaches of Nestlé supply chains.
The theme of the week was People, Planet, Profit. Benjamin wanted the team to reflect on the social, environmental and economic aspects of Responsible Sourcing and to gain an appreciation of how to make decisions for the optimal balance between all three. We saw how the focus on the economic, the profit, can lead to poor outcomes for people and the planet.
At the end of the week, I captured a discussion with Benjamin to get his thoughts on how the Studio had progressed. I also spoke with my Earthworm colleague Julien Troussier. Benjamin had invited Julien and I to lead the coaching team. Julien and I interspersed the field activities with discussions around Values, Transparency, Transformation and Verification (VTTV) but not from the traditional TFT company perspective.
Earthworm has shown us the power of working with people, those inside companies. What are their Values? Not the company’s values – their own personal values. What gets them out of bed in the morning? Why are they doing what they’re doing? So often we find that people have them, usually very strongly, but they’re so busy working that they don’t spend any time reflecting on them or asking themselves whether what they’re doing in their day is aligned. That’s the Transparency bit - how are you going against your values? Next comes Transformation. If there are gaps, if you’re not aligned – what can you do to change that? And lastly, Verification – who are your friends, the people who can help you stay aligned, or can ring a bell if they feel you’re straying. Our Earthworm approach has worked well in the past and it seems to have been particularly helpful for the Nestlé team.
I also chatted with Pan from Verité, a global NGO working on human rights and Ioan Nemeş from Oxfam. Both Pan and Ioan had supported the coaching efforts.
The combination of intense field visits with Earthworm reflection worked well here. It was the first time we’d done this but for sure we’ll look to do it again with other groups, other teams.
As we boarded our respective flights home after the intense week, there was a strong sense that Benjamin and his Responsible Sourcing Team were ready. They were each aligned with their own values and had grappled with tough questions and tough situations through the week. There weren’t any backward steps and my sense is that this team, who will be engaged in the procurement of billions of dollars worth of raw materials, will do very important work to bring responsible sourcing to the forefront of procurement decision-making in the world’s largest food company.
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