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20 July 2021

Communicating ESG: the Kraft Heinz case study on responsible investing

ESG – or environment, social and governance – has become a business buzzword (okay, acronym!) when it comes to attracting talent and investors. But what about the challenge of engaging employees in this increasingly important part of business strategy?

How organisations treat the environment, their impact on society and how well they run their company are under increasing scrutiny as employees and investors seek to work with sustainable and ethical businesses.

At Kraft Heinz, one of the largest FMCG companies in the world it fell to Laura Colantuono, Internal Comms and Employer Branding Manager, International to authentically communicate the company’s ESG credentials as part of a business transformation.

“We’ve come a long way on our journey already through environmental stewardship, operational efficiency, waste reduction, sustainable packaging and responsible sourcing, as well as supporting the communities in which we live and work,” she told guests at a recent Sequel Presents: A Coffee With webinar.”

“Internal comms has had a key role in creating engagement around these activities – making the big picture clear while telling the stories that are most relevant to our people and explain how they fit into the business strategy.

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“You don’t need a big budget to do that. It’s about leveraging the resources and tools you have by being smart and telling stories.”

Over the past year, Laura’s focus has been on telling stories about the employees who are driving the ESG agenda. “For each initiative we communicate externally we also communicate internally, whether that’s an R&D breakthrough, marketing or news from our factories. We focus on the people that made it happen through all sorts of channels, from a dedicated section on our intranet to newsletters, virtual events, and videos.

“The trick is to make it relevant and tell a compelling story, so employees feel empowered and keen to join in.”

Laura has also found that mixing information (learning) and fun with a call to action really resonates with employees.

“For example, we had a remote ESG day for northern Europe. Around 200 people joined to learn about our challenges and plans, as well hear from our partners about what they do and how we support them. We followed that with fundraising activities that showcased people’s talents.

“Another event was Water Day where we shared what we were doing to reduce water waste and how the factories were tackling the issue. We included games to play while learning something new and invited people to share their own pledges.

“It’s important that employees know that ESG isn’t just a way of attracting investors or increasing share price – it’s the right thing to do – for us, for our employees, consumers and partners.”

And while there may be some cynics, Laura says that most employees want to know about ESG and are truly passionate about it, often acting as the driving force behind the initiatives.

“The bottom line is that employees want to be a part of it and to contribute. We might be story tellers, but we are also the glue between the strategy and values and what ESG entails by turning that into clear content that resonates with people, wherever they are.”

Laura’s top tips for communicating ESG

  1. Don’t be afraid of asking questions. Rely on your experts internally and externally and use this opportunity to grow and build your own skills as a communicator.
  2. Ask employees how they want to contribute, what they want to know – great ideas can come from a simple question.
  3. Celebrate the big stuff but also the small wins at a local level.
  4. Honestly share your results and keep them updated. Be clear that ESG is not a big announcement then forgotten about. Include it in your day-to-day comms.
  5. Share news internally before you do it externally and make sure you concentrate on the stories about the people who have made it possible.

Missed it? Don’t miss out. Click here to request a full recording of Laura’s conversation with Sequel’s Nick Andrews.