Top 5 Themes for Driving an ESG Strategy

By:  Steve Cahillane, Kellogg Chairman & CEO

As we enter 2022, I am energized about the year ahead. One topic I think will continue to grow in importance is the conversation and work driving Environmental, Social and Governance, or ESG. It’s not just the flavor of the month or a box to check. Consumers, employees and other stakeholders passionately believe in it and they want to support and work for companies that are just as passionate and making an impact.

At Kellogg, we are committed to living our purpose with all of our heart and soul. It began with our founder, W.K. Kellogg who was an early conservationist and a leading philanthropist, as well as an original wellbeing visionary. We remain dedicated to carrying on that legacy. Our Better Days purpose strategy is addressing the interconnected issues of wellbeing, hunger relief and climate resiliency to create Better Days for 3 billion people by the end of 2030.

At the end of last year, I had the privilege to join Ernst and Young’s Strategic Growth Forum for a conversation with EY’s Global Chairman & CEO Carmine Di Sibio on creating long-term value through ESG. It was a powerful and engaging discussion. As I think back, there were five key themes that emerged throughout the conversation about driving an ESG strategy.

1. Be grounded in your Vision & Purpose

Stakeholders want to do business with companies that have heart and soul, that have a vision and purpose, that make commitments to people and our planet, and that live up to those commitments. At Kellogg, our Vision & Purpose are at the center of everything we do. They are integrated with our  Deploy For Growth strategy, guiding the way we work with our business partners, within our communities and with each other.    

2. People must be your heart and soul

In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic and racial inequity have been at the forefront of conversation. We’re committed to removing tangible and intangible barriers to ensure equity across our company’s practices in the workplace, marketplace and communities. We recently launched our enhanced Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I) strategy which includes a goal to achieve 25% representation of racially diverse talent at the management level by the end of 2025.   

3. Embrace Sustainability as an enabler to growth

Sustainability is an enabler to balanced growth – supporting the bottom line through cost savings initiatives and risk mitigation and supporting commercial strategies to deliver topline growth. In 2021, we issued our first-ever sustainability bond – an 8-year, €300 million bond that allows us to provide more visibility into the work we’re doing in this area.

4. Leverage advancements in innovation

To continue doing better for our planet, we need to pursue advanced, next-generation technology that will make a difference. Over a century ago, Kellogg’s first cereal boxes were made from recycled paper board. Today, we’re piloting a 100% recyclable Pringles can in the UK and have committed to achieve 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by the end of 2025. We’re embracing data and technology to find more advanced and efficient means to reach our commitments.

5. Develop and nourish partnerships

In order to make the advances necessary to meet ESG commitments, we need to consider the end-to-end supply chain. We can’t do it alone. To ensure we’re on the right track and have the best science available, we leverage partnerships with industry leading organizations such as Consumer Goods Forum and the Science-Based Targets initiative. At Kellogg, we’ve made significant progress on our ESG commitments, but we still have work to do. It won’t be easy, but if we want to succeed, we need to have the courage to push forward and drive positive change for people, communities and the planet. And I truly believe that our Kellogg team has grit to make a difference. It’s in our DNA.

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