As an HR leader whose influence creates social change, what do you feel has been your most impactful action to date?
I moved into this role four years ago, with a background career outside of HR, and it was a new position for Danone. I was learning about the topic on the job and bringing Danone along in the learning journey. I recognised it was important not to push Global expectations at Local levels, but to understand how we translate our Global goals across the 55 countries we operate in and work on local priorities. For example, in France we have a priority to work on youth inclusion and people with disability whereas in China, we created a shadow board consisting of young people to include the voice of the young generation. I moved into HR because I felt I could make a difference for the business and the people, and I’m delighted when I receive feedback that my work and influence has been life-changing for some of our people.
At the moment, in your industry, what do you think is the most exciting opportunity for HR to change the world?
We have the power to create change in the company and society as a whole. It’s about having the conversations and challenging the current thinking across all HR processes. When recruiting, it’s most important not to think how this person may fit within the team or organisation, but what this person can bring that is new and fresh. When developing our people, it’s about creating opportunity for promotion and willing to take risks and give people a chance to prove themselves. We can shape this mindset in our companies and outside as well. We are implementing a gender-neutral parental policy globally as part of our global partnership with UN Women. And in some countries like Italy, we work with the government and other industry leaders to shape the country’s parental policy as well. The possibility to advocate that level of change is very exciting and game changing.
Which particular areas of social and environmental injustice are you most passionate about, and see that your role gives you the chance to create change?
I’m passionate about giving everyone a voice and encouraging diversity of thought. This goes beyond having diversity represented in a room, we need to listen to everyone’s voices and leave space to them to make an impact. At Danone we have the ‘One Person, One Voice, One Share’ programme, whereby each employee has a share in the company. As an employee and shareholder, their thoughts are sought through an annual One Voice survey. They are asked what we should focus on in the next 12 months at a global and local level, and their feedback forms part of the strategy planning process.
How have you best used your position to create a more equitable and inclusive environment in ways that deliver your business goals?
Recognising the industry I work in is FMCG, we have an opportunity to consider our potential impact on equality and diversity in the broadest sense. Our brands have the power to influence and shape the conversations in the society, especially when it comes to fighting against bias and stereotypes. They can also become a change agent to promote diversity as part of their manifesto. For example, in Mexico, our bottled water brand Bonafont, fights for gender equality through actions like Carrera Bonafont annual running race and Safe Cities for Women and Girls program in partnership with UN Women.
What is the one specific action you would like to see all HR Leaders take to make a positive change for the world?
It’s not easy being in HR. You are expected to help people and the burden of responsibility is very big on our shoulders to bring about positive change. However, if we work together as HR Leaders, and collectively challenge our business leaders to think and do something different, challenging the status quo, then I think we can make a progress.