Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CR&S) has two tiers of governance in Olam:
The first tier is the CR&S Board Committee (see graphic below) which is a mix of executive and non-executive directors. In 2015, we saw some key changes as Mr. Narain Girdhar Chanrai retired. As a member of Olam’s founding family sponsor, the Kewalram Chanrai Group, he had seen Olam transform from a trader of cashews from Nigeria to a global agribusiness. His counsel, particularly on CR&S issues, was always astute.
Despite Mr Chanrai’s departure, the non-executive director interest in the CR&S Committee expanded – we welcomed Ms Marie Elaine Teo, a Senior Advisor and Partner at the Holdingham Group Ltd and Mr. Katsuhiro Ito, Senior Vice President of the Mitsubishi Corporation, which took a 20% investment stake in Olam in 2015.
Our continuing CR&S non-executive and independent directors are Mr Jean-Paul Pinard, who as Chairman of the CR&S Board brings 17 years’ of experience with the International Finance Corporation before becoming Director of the Agricultural Department; Mr Nihal Vijaya Devadas Kaviratne, CBE, who brings much direct experience from his 40 year tenure with the Unilever Group; and Mr Robert Michael Tomlin who is Vice Chairman of Lepercq de Neuflize Asia and a Trustee of Singapore Management University.
Their experience is augmented by that of executive director Mr Shekhar Anantharaman who as of February 2016 is Chief Operating Officer for Olam. Having joined Olam in 1992, Shekhar has played a variety of roles, leading and scaling several of Olam’s global businesses, regions and functions meaning he has wide understanding of the sustainability challenges across our material areas and along our value chain.
More detail on the principles underpinning Olam’s boards, including membership, attendance, composition, accountability and remuneration can be found in the 2015 Annual Report.
Meetings and agenda items
The CR&S Board Committee met on four occasions in 2015 and were briefed on key developments and any challenges by Chris Brett, Global Head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, along with Gerard Manley, Chair of the CR&S Executive Committee. Agenda items included:
- Review of potential investment theses and whether they meet Olam’s environmental and social criteria. In 2015, one investment was rejected.
- Audit results from land investments (e.g. palm and rubber in Gabon; coffee in Zambia, Tanzania and Laos)
- Reports from the Fair Labor Association with whom Olam is working to improve labour practices in third party supply chains
- The development of health campaigns and impact assessments for our workforce but also in smallholder supply chains
- Environmental foot-printing progress, especially following the implementation of the new technology for capturing data across the whole of Olam’s businesses
- Updates on stakeholder interests (examples include carbon stock calculations for our palm plantations and land tenure in communities near our coffee plantations in Tanzania).
CR&S Executive Committee (ExCo)
As can be seen from the chart, the CR&S ExCo has representation from across the geographical regions as well as experts from across our upstream operations, smallholder supply chains as well as Treasury.
The Committee is chaired by Gerard Manley who has thirty years’ experience in the cocoa and chocolate industry and through his many industry memberships, has helped to advance sustainability across the cocoa supply chain. In 2015 he stepped down from his role as Chair of the Federation of Cocoa Commerce, using his closing speech to highlight the need for continuing collaboration at a precompetitive level.
The activities of the CR&S Committee are managed by Chris Brett, Global Head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability. Chris has been with Olam since 2007 and, in addition to advancing Olam’s sustainability strategy and implementation, has developed a strong network of supporting partners, from customers to technical NGOs to foundations and Development Finance Institutions.
Embedding governance locally
The role of the CR&S ExCo is to ensure that the sustainability strategy is embedded across the business on a day to day basis. This means ensuring that Codes and Policies are developed in such a way that they can be accurately interpreted at a local level and that they are relevant for individual product teams.
Key matters discussed by the Committee in 2015 (in addition to those cited under the CR&S Board Committee meetings) included:
- How to better advance understanding of Growing Responsibly across the whole business
- How to expand the training opportunities and facilities for Olam CR&S representatives e.g. on gender and good labour practices
- How the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should be communicated internally in such a way as to ensure that colleagues are not confused as to what Olam had already set as goals and targets versus new goals
- How the CR&S Function can support MATS on their ‘Safe Olam’ campaign.
Products also have their own sustainability teams, taking their direction from the Committees, the CR&S Function, Product Heads and Region and Country Heads.
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