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Five keys to driving ESG strategies

BATTLE CREEK, MICH. — Being grounded in vision and purpose and embracing sustainability as an enabler to growth are two key themes for driving an environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy, said Steve Cahillane, chairman and chief executive officer of Kellogg Co.

In a company blog posting, Mr. Cahillane identified his top five themes for driving an ESG strategy, noting that ESG is “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,” he said.

Mr. Cahillane said his five themes arose following a conversation at the Ernst and Young’s Strategic Growth Forum late last year.

“It was a powerful and engaging discussion,” he said.

The first theme is to be grounded in vision and 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,” Mr. Cahillane said. “At Kellogg, our vision and 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.”

Second, people must be your heart and soul.

“In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic and racial inequity have been at the forefront of conversation,” he said. “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.”

A third key theme in 2022 involves embracing sustainability as an enabler to growth. As an example of this theme, Mr. Cahillane pointed to Kellogg’s recent issuance of its first-ever sustainability bond — an eight-year, €300 million bond that allows the company to provide more visibility into the work it’s doing on the sustainability front.

A fourth theme is leveraging advancements in innovation.

“To continue doing better for our planet, we need to pursue advanced, next-generation technology that will make a difference,” Mr. Cahillane said. “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.”

Finally, developing and nourishing partnerships will be key moving forward.

“In order to make the advances necessary to meet ESG commitments, we need to consider the end-to-end supply chain,” he said. “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.”

Additional information on Kellogg’s ESG efforts is availablehere.

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