Danone Waters: “As a B-Corp, it’s crucial we all live the values”


Issues such as climate change are at the heart of B-Corp companies’ values

Gartner research recently showed how employees favour working for purpose-driven companies. Emma Sykes from Danone Waters UK & Ireland explains how the company has become a certified B Corp, and how the contributions of employees have shaped this.

More than ever before, people want to work for, buy from and partner with businesses they trust to make a positive impact for society and the environment.

One major way for businesses to demonstrate this commitment is to become certified as a B Corp – joining a global movement of 3500 companies dedicated to creating a better world.

B Corp is much more than a label; it’s a philosophy and way of doing business that must be embedded and lived throughout the whole company to be truly successful. At Danone Waters UK & Ireland, our people have been at the heart of our B Corp journey, and we know it will continue to instil a strong sense of purpose and pride among them.

B Corps are businesses that are proven to value purpose as much as profit. Companies must undergo a rigorous assessment to secure certification – showing high standards of social and environmental performance.

Once certified, B Corps are legally required to consider the impact of all decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment.

Milestone status

At Danone Waters UK & Ireland we’re hugely proud to have recently achieved B Corp status, with a score of 95.7. This is a significant milestone in Danone’s ambition to become fully B Corp certified across all its global business operations by 2025.

We performed highly in the workers section of our assessment – in part due to offering all our people shares in the business, as well as giving employees unlimited volunteering time to give back to the community during the pandemic.

Our employees are also crucial to co-building our business strategy and shaping our future priorities, with 87% of Danone Waters UK & Ireland employees sharing their insights through our annual ‘One Voice’ survey in 2020.

We want all our employees, at every level, to feel empowered to take personal responsibility for helping to make a positive difference – through our everyday actions and by challenging our business to go further.

Our B Corp journey this year has been spearheaded by a passionate team of employee volunteers, who managed the certification process and built authentic internal momentum from the ground up.

Going beyond their usual roles, they truly championed the B Corp movement among their colleagues, bringing inspiration, energy and enthusiasm to engage others throughout the certification process.

Continual improvement

Achieving B Corp status was a moment of pride for Danone Waters UK & Ireland and all our employees, with many sharing the news in their personal and business networks. But we know certification is just the beginning.

The B Corp philosophy is about striving to continually improve – particularly as B Corps are required to recertify every three years, aiming to increase their score each time. It’s critical that every employee is engaged with this ongoing mission for positive change.

To help achieve this, our employees will continue to be in the driving seat when it comes to our B Corp agenda.

Volunteers from around the business will co-build and monitor our progress against a B Corp roadmap, helping us to improve by continuing to leverage our strengths and by identifying opportunities and actionable plans in the areas we need to go further on.

We encourage all our employees to explore B Corp learning opportunities, and how their role, objectives and career aspirations can contribute to our B Corp ambition.

Using business as a force for good has always been in Danone’s DNA, and so B Corp certification was a natural progression for us and has never been more relevant. In 1972, the first Danone CEO said: “There is only one earth, we only live once.”

Those words kick-started a vision to bring health to our planet and its people – and they feel more important right now than ever before.

Wider agenda

The far-reaching impacts of the pandemic, combined with the urgent environmental challenges we face, mean there is rightly an increased focus on how businesses can support employees, help communities and accelerate change.

Being a B Corp company can also provide an opportunity for employees to contribute to something bigger than a purely commercial agenda, which can help boost morale and their sense of fulfilment at work.

This is so relevant in a difficult year, when many of us have had to adapt to new ways of working or to reconsider what’s important to us in a career.

As we head into another critical year, the actions that businesses take will determine whether we successfully address some of the major social and climate challenges we all face. Responsible businesses need to bring all employees with them on this journey. It’s up to all of us to seize the opportunity for positive change.

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