Entering a new year is a great time to pause for reflection on the past year, and look ahead toward opportunities to grow, learn and advance our mission and values in the months ahead. Our mission of “changing the way the world eats for the better,” coupled with our six core values, helps us to focus on doing work that makes a true impact in our communities and the world around us.
Looking to 2017, a time of exciting change for our company, we thought it was fitting to revisit our values. These values are simple, but deeply held, beliefs that were created by our employees. They define who we are, how we act and what is most important to us as an organization:
- Integrity to Produce Food Responsibly: Producing food responsibly means making better choices, even when people aren’t watching.
- Informality to Enjoy Our Work Together: No matter how much we grow or change, we must remember that this is a place where our doors are always open.
- Share What We Do Well: WhiteWave is committed to the environment and our communities. We must find new, innovative ways to use our company’s core skills to make an even bigger difference.
- Individuals Matter: We come to WhiteWave for the same reason – to personally make a difference in the future of this company.
- Passion to Lead: Each and every one of us must come to work every day with the simple goal of doing better than we did the day before.
- Courage to Learn and Grow: In a constantly changing world, we must bring a healthy ambition to our work, be nimble, adaptive, and always learning.
These values came to life in a variety of ways throughout 2016. Here are just a few examples:
Our value of “Share What We Do Well” is best exemplified in Share What We Do Well Month, a company-wide celebration of community giving. During SWWDWM each October, WhiteWave employees are given time-off to volunteer with non-profits in their communities. In 2016, 92 percent of North American WhiteWave employees participated in SWWDWM, supporting a variety of issues and causes in their communities. In total, more than 67 nonprofits in 26 locations across North America and Canada were supported by WhiteWave volunteers.
- The growth of our Employee Resource Groups during the past 12 months speaks to our value of “Individuals Matter.” These employee-powered groups focus on a variety of topics and issues, helping us to further embrace the power of individuals to make a difference in our company.
- This year, we also celebrated the launch of our most recent Corporate Social Responsibility report, which demonstrates the many ways we work to showcase our value of “Integrity to Produce Food Responsibly.” For example, in 2016 we fulfilled our promise to source 100 percent of the cocoa powder used to produce our North American brands. Additionally, we’ve grown in our progress towards positive environmental impacts, including seeing 78 percent of our total waste in 2015 diverted to composting, recycling or land-use applications.
These values will continue to serve as our guiding light in 2017 as we work together to make better food for a better world and a better future
The New Year is a great time to think about ways to change things up and make better choices, in ways both big and small.
A resolution many of us at WhiteWave are making this year is adopting a plant-based diet. We love the idea of making plants a core part of everyday meal prep in 2017.
And, a new report in the December 2016 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics supports the benefits of this resolution. The report emphasizes that vegetarian and vegan diets are great for people of all ages, including kids and pregnant women. With a well-planned and balanced diet, studies have shown that vegetarians may have a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Plant-based diets are also more environmentally friendly. According to the report, the production of plant-based products tends to use less water and fossil fuel resources, plus a lower amount of pesticides and fertilizers as compared to the production of conventional agriculture and dairy products.
Ultimately, plant-based nutrition is a better, more sustainable way to nourish people and the planet. And, people are taking notice. The popularity of plant-based products has continued to grow during the past several years. At WhiteWave, we’re proud to offer a variety of plant-based brands and products to meet consumer needs. Between our Silk, So Delicious, Alpro and Vega brands, there’s truly something for everyone and every eating occasion, all powered by plants.
It’s a great time to join the plant-based revolution by choosing products that are delicious and help create a more sustainable environment for future generations. Here’s to a greener 2017!
We are excited to announce that, for the second consecutive year, WhiteWave received a perfect score of 100 percent on the 2017 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a national benchmarking survey and report about corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace equality, administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC). WhiteWave joins the ranks of 517 major U.S. businesses which also earned top marks this year.
The 2017 CEI rated 1,043 businesses in the report, which evaluates LGBT-related policies and practices including non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBT community. WhiteWave’s efforts in satisfying all of the CEI’s criteria resulted in a 100 percent ranking and the designation as a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality.
This recognition for the second consecutive year reinforces our commitment to our Value of Individuals Matter, and our efforts to create and support a diverse workplace. We are constantly striving to not only change how the world eats for the better, but to change the world for better by running our business in a way that’s good for both our people and our planet.
To learn more about the Human Rights Campaign, click here. You can also visit our CSR Report for a comprehensive look at the many ways we empower employees here at WhiteWave.
We strongly believe our purpose is about much more than providing great tasting, responsibly-produced food. It’s also about leveraging the scale of our business to give back to the communities in which we live and work. An area that we’re particularly passionate about and committed to is hunger relief. One of our primary goals is to ensure access to healthy, nutritious foods and beverages for everyone, and we work to achieve this by supporting local hunger relief partners through food donations, financial contributions and employee volunteerism.
In North America, our plants and offices raise money for their local Feeding America affiliates, a unifying effort for WhiteWave. The Feeding America network is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, and in 2015 alone, we provided them with 1.6 million meals. One of our longest standing local hunger relief partnerships is with Community Food Share (CFS), a nonprofit food bank located in Colorado, where we’re headquartered. Our support for CFS over the years includes financial donations, hundreds of volunteer hours, and food donations. In fact, since 2006, WhiteWave has donated approximately 12 million pounds of product to CFS.
In 2016, Colorado employees raised $105,767 for the organization during their annual “Compete to Beat Hunger” Corporate Challenge. With a corporate dollar-for-dollar match, we were able to donate $211,534 to CFS, which is the equivalent of providing 634,600 meals to people in need across Broomfield and Boulder counties. In addition, during that same month, employees at 15 different sites outside of Colorado raised a total of $19,230 for food banks in their local communities. That amount was also matched dollar-for-dollar, providing total donations of $38,460 and 115,380 meals to those in need in their areas.
Ensuring our neighbors have nourishing food to eat is something that will always be a priority for us at WhiteWave, and we’ve enjoyed the opportunities we’ve had to partner with CFS and other Feeding America food banks to make a difference in this area.
WhiteWave employee help at a Denver area food bank
In just the past five years, Share What We Do Well Month (SWWDWM) has grown from a single day of service into a month-long expression of our value to “share what we do well.” Taking place each October, SWWDWM is a company-wide celebration of community giving. During SWWDWM, WhiteWave employees are given time-off to volunteer with non-profits in their communities.
Once again in 2016, our employees stepped up to the challenge. This October, 92% of North American WhiteWave employees participated in SWWDWM, supporting a variety of issues and causes in their communities. Team members participated in volunteer activities ranging from stocking food bank shelves to pitching in at community gardens and animal shelters. In total, more than 67 nonprofits in 26 locations across North America and Canada were supported by WhiteWave volunteers.
Here are just a few highlights from SWWDWM this year:
- Our warehouse and sales teams in City of Industry, CA participated in Disney 5K CHOC Walk in the Park, raising more than $6,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. The team also participated in a blood drive for the Children’s Hospital as part of their SWWDWM efforts.
- Several teams from our headquarters in Broomfield, CO volunteered their time at Community Food Share, a Feeding America food bank, helping to sort food and pack boxes for upcoming holiday dinner donations.
- The sales team in San Juan Bautista, CA got spooky, donating raisins to the town’s annual Halloween Party. Additionally, the team raised and donated $20,000 to help victims of the recent Soberanes Fire that impacted homes in the area.
- Finally, 55 “Vegatopians” from our Vega team in Canada joined forces to participate in Do Better Day. As part of this effort, these team members volunteered their time at more than 10 non-profits across Canada, including food banks, local farms and youth shelters.
While SWWDWM may only come once a year, we’re constantly striving to “share what we do well.” We’re extremely thankful to have employees who share our commitment to giving back and supporting the communities in which we live and work.
WhiteWave employees, family members and friends walk in Denver’s 2016 Pride parade
One of our core values at WhiteWave is “Individuals Matter”, which means that we strive to have an inclusive, fun and inspiring workplace and a culture where differences are respected and celebrated. Our employee resource groups (ERGs) are a big part of how we live this value and create a workplace in which everyone can be their authentic self.
WhiteWave employee Aubrey Yuzva helped found the PRIDE Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) ERG in 2013 and told us more about the genesis of that group and how it helps promote a welcoming atmosphere at WhiteWave.
“It initially started with informal, monthly coffee dates — just a few employees discussing how a PRIDE group might be a good resource to help ensure an inclusive culture at WhiteWave. Even though WhiteWave has always been really supportive of LGBT employees, and there wasn’t necessarily anything to “fix”, we wanted to ensure that LGBT employees had visibility within the organization and knew that this was a safe place to be out. We also thought we could use it as a springboard to start doing some good in our local LGBT community as well.
As we began outlining what we wanted to be and how we could effect change, we decided on four pillars:
1. Building Community through social events, volunteerism, and sponsorship of local LGBT Pride month events
2. Promoting an inclusive workplace though learning and development sessions
3. Improving recruiting and retention by attending the Out & Equal conference, reaching out to a diverse talent pool, and educating hiring managers on WhiteWave’s LGBT policies
4. Championing LGBT advocacy by asking for WhiteWave’s participation in the Corporate Equality Index, sponsoring the Human Rights Campaign Gala and evaluating other potential partnerships with local, state and national organizations
Since 2013, we’ve experienced some really significant growth. We now have over 100 people on our ERG roster, a senior leadership team sponsor and an eight-member board that helps us run various aspects of the group.
Some of the accomplishments and activities that we’re most proud of include WhiteWave’s participation in – and 100 percent rating from – the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. Our score reflects the efforts the company has made to create a best-in-class inclusive culture for the LBGT community, including implementing policies and practices like non-discriminatory workplace protections, domestic partner benefits and transgender-inclusive healthcare, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBT community.
We also hosted a Transgender 101 seminar, which was attended by over 50 employees, including our company president and several other senior leadership team members. Led by TEDx speaker Decker Moss it was an educational presentation on the transgender experience and included basics from proper terminology and etiquette to complexities like transitioning gender on the job and how to support someone who does.
Overall, we view the PRIDE ERG as point of education for employees and a resource for LGBT issues in the workplace. We’re not just here for LGBT employees – we also want to talk to family members, co-workers friends and folks who want to learn how to be a better LGBT ally. In fact, nearly 90 employees, with their friends and family members, showed up to march with us in the Denver Pride Parade this summer. I’m so proud to work for a company that openly supports and puts dollars behind these types of initiatives. They take a lot of time, effort and money and WhiteWave has always been behind us 110 percent.”
This year marks a decade since we launched Values in Action (VIA), a program we created in 2006 to offer employees opportunities to take action and track their progress in the areas of volunteerism, community involvement and environmental initiatives.
At WhiteWave, we strongly believe that our purpose is to do much more than simply provide great tasting, responsibly-produced food. It’s also about giving back to our communities and protecting our natural resources.
Through VIA, our employees choose how they want to reduce their environmental footprint or make an impact in their communities. For example, some employees choose to bike or carpool to work, while others may spend time volunteering with a local animal shelter or stocking food bank shelves. Employees then log their actions into the VIA database. At the end of each year, our team members are recognized for these contributions.
During the past 10 years, we’re proud of the impact our VIA program has made in supporting our local communities and helping to protect the planet. Here’s a taste of what we’ve accomplished:
- Each year since VIA’s inception, more than 90 percent of WhiteWave employees have participated in volunteer activities in their community
- In the past five years, our employees have recorded more than 45,000 miles commuted via bicycle
- Since 2011 alone, our team has given more than 60,000 hours of community service to groups and causes that they are passionate about
- In 2015, through the VIA program, WhiteWave employees volunteered more than 11,000 hours globally to nonprofits and logged 15,505 bike miles commuting to work in the U.S.
With 10 years of VIA under our belt, we are extremely proud of the work done by our team members to build a values-based community where we can all make a positive impact. The ongoing success of VIA is a testament to each of our more than 2,700 global employees who give back to causes close to them, making their communities and the environment better in the process.
We can’t wait to see what we can accomplish in the next 10 years!
Part of Illuminating Better Options (one of the three pillars of our sustainability strategy) is enhancing education. One way we strive to do that is by using packaging that clearly communicates with consumers about how it can be recycled once empty. Since 2012, we have partnered with the Carton Council to spread the word about recycling programs across the U.S. The partnership has helped increase carton recycling access to 58 percent of communities nationwide.
Subsequently, we have extended recycling awareness and participation beyond just cartons and into our broader product portfolio. We participate in the How2Recycle labeling program through the GreenBlue Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to the sustainable use of materials. How2Recycle is a standardized labeling system that clearly communicates consistent and transparent on-package recycling instructions to consumers. We have begun to feature the standardized labels on our cartons and clamshells this year, as we update our packaging.
Cultivating a responsible food system is not just about ingredients. It’s also about packaging and how we can help illuminate better recycling options for our consumers.
The global food industry uses 70 percent of the world’s freshwater supply, and most of this is use supports crop growth. In fact, one-third of the world’s food is grown in areas of high water stress or competition. As a food company, we have a responsibility – to our consumers, to the planet and to future generations – to protect our natural resources in the face of climate change and growing environmental pressures like water scarcity.
That’s why, we are proud to be participating in the World Wildlife Fund and Ceres’ AgWater Challenge to expand our commitment to responsible agricultural water use and raise awareness of the important role companies can play in addressing food and water security. We have worked in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund and Ceres to assess our water risks in agricultural supply chains and set new commitments in water stewardship.
As part of our participation in the AgWater Challenge, WhiteWave will:
1. Develop a road map to agricultural water stewardship over the next 24 months that addresses shared water challenges facing our key commodities (dairy, soy, almond and produce in particular) in areas of greatest water risk. The road map will include issues such as: specific water risks of key commodities, general strategies and clear targets for influencing and advancing water stewardship for high risk sourcing regions/key commodity combinations, and channels for transparent disclosure of progress and challenges.
2. Engage in policy advocacy to strengthen water management in our priority sourcing regions. We will scale our partnership with the Business for Water Stewardship network, which is comprised of more than 1,100 businesses that depend on and support a healthy and thriving Colorado River system. And we will become a signatory of Ceres’ Connect the Drops initiative, which seeks to elevate the voice of businesses in favor of resilient water solutions.
We’re excited to join six other companies – Diageo, General Mills, Hain Celestial, Hormel, Kellogg, and PepsiCo – in this collaborative initiative to reduce water use, and as part of our continued commitment to making products that support farmers and respect natural ecosystems throughout our supply chain.
Guest Blogger: Geoff Renstrom
As a food company, we recognize that we play a major role in the use of our earth’s natural resources. Globally, 86 percent of all consumed freshwater is used to grow food, so the choices we make when it comes to managing our water use can have a big impact, and we take the challenge of reducing our water footprint seriously.
Our commitment to cultivating a responsible food system has driven us to take a holistic approach to managing of our environmental impacts, including our impacts on water.
Water Resource Credits
This holistic approach begins by carefully measuring and monitoring our manufacturing footprint and setting goals for improvement. One of the ways we do this is by balancing portions of our water usage with water restoration certificates (WRCs). WRCs allow companies to offset their water use by funding water restoration projects. For each WRC purchased, 1,000 gallons of water is restored to critically dewatered rivers and water systems across the U.S.
In 2015, we balanced 45 percent of our global manufacturing water footprint through the purchase of WRCs from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, an Oregon-based non-profit organization that supports water restoration programs and the development of new sources of renewable energy. Since 2009, our WRC commitments, many of them benefitting key areas within our supply chain, have restored more than 1.9 billion gallons of water.
We are also a charter sponsor of BEF’s Change the Course water stewardship campaign. This effort aims to engage companies and individuals in conservation awareness, action, and replenishment of freshwater ecosystems. Our financial support has helped the campaign restore more than 5 billion gallons of water through 17 new restoration projects across seven states.
Putting Water to Work
In addition to our purchase of WRCs, we’re also focused on efforts to better manage our water use in the production of our products.
One of these projects is in place at our Mt. Crawford, Virginia manufacturing facility. In 2015, we completed the first phase of a two-phase wastewater treatment project at the plant. Specifically, we put a process into place that allows more than half of the water used by the plant’s cooling tower to be cleaned and put to use in other parts of the facility.
The project reduced the plant’s demand on available water by 7 million gallons in the first three months of operation. In turn, this has shrunk the plant’s water footprint by 10 percent, which is the equivalent of 4 million individual showers!
The two examples above are just some of the ways we’re working to optimize and manage our water footprint in ways that promote environmental stewardship and ensure we are doing our part to help replenish America’s freshwater ecosystems. We’re committed to continuing to work with our suppliers and within our own operations to reduce our water usage and protect the high-quality freshwater that is integral to sustaining our environment for generations to come.