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!