In 2016, Danone developed a new tool for its whistleblowing system, named the Danone Ethics Line (DEL). Danone takes very seriously legal requirements, ensuring the company continues to send a clear message to all its stakeholders, reminding them that it does not turn a blind eye on improper practices and that it will investigate thoroughly any improper behavior within the company.
In return, Danone expects its stakeholders to act with a high level of integrity and to report any concerns. At Danone, in line with the vision, everyone plays an active role in making the business more sustainable through a continuous and open dialogue.
Why does it matter?
It is at the core of Danone’s DNA to promote business success and social progress as a joint project. The company’s reputation fuels its topline growth and creates trust in its superior brand. The only sustainable growth is the one obtained with superior products, not doubtful practices. Compliance at Danone is a clear example of creating sustainable business in an ethical and transparent manner.
Transparency and open dialogue are essential to this joint project with the Danone Ethics Line, creating an easily accessible channel to speak up when needed.
How does it work?
The DEL is a dedicated tool that enables any employee or other stakeholder to raise a concern about any breach of the Code of Business Conduct, unlawful behaviors, financial malpractices and any activity that brings risk for the environment or human rights.
The tool is web based, accessible from any country by anyone with an Internet connection. It is highly secured and meets local legal requirements.
Alert reports are received by the corporate compliance team based at the headquarters which manages cases and investigations under the supervision of a dedicated committee: the Danone Ethics Line Committee. This committee is composed of the Chief Compliance Officer, Integrity Director, Internal Audit Director, Human Resources Compliance Director, Security representative and meets regularly.
After being first encouraged to talk to their manager/local compliance representative/Human Resources contact, whistleblowers may provide their identity or decide to file their report anonymously. The tool also provides the ability to open a confidential Post box to exchange with whistleblowers and to inform them of the outcome of an investigation. There will be no retaliation against whistleblowers if they report a genuine concern as per Danone’s Code of Conduct.
How does this project create value?
The World Bank established that there is a clear correlation between the economic wealth and the perceived corruption in a country. Danone supports the argument that corruption tears societies apart and adds to the hatred of the majority that has to pay for the privileged few. The Company’s Compliance program, based on the applicable anti-corruption, competition, data privacy protection and trade sanctions laws and regulations, is meant to drive Danone in the safe direction as it enters markets and support its role as a fair market player, where everybody has a chance to succeed.
It is fundamental that everyone have the opportunity to freely voice any compliance related concern. Improper behaviors are not tolerated at Danone and it is everyone’s responsibility to play an active role here. Ultimately, day to day business can benefit from decreased costs and even, in the long term, increased results because transparent business practices allow better cost control and savings.