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DanoneWave Established as US' Largest Public Benefit Corporation

DanoneWave, the newly combined entity of WhiteWave Foods and Danone’s dairy business, has been incorporated as a public benefit corporation in the U.S. With more than $6 billion in revenue and 6,000 employees, DanoneWave will be the largest public benefit corporation, which is a corporate structure intended to operate in a responsible and sustainable manner. A public benefit corporation is managed in a way that balances shareholders’ financial interests and the benefits it brings to people, the environment and broader society. An advisory committee has been established to provide guidance and insights on furthering DanoneWave’s mission as a public benefit corporation.

Mission and commitments

“From our beginning, we aspire to create economic, environmental and social value in our everyday decisions about how we operate DanoneWave. We’ll do this in the interest of our shareholders, employees, consumers, customers and suppliers, and improve the impact of our activities on the environment,” said Lorna Davis, CEO of DanoneWave and Danone’s Chief Manifesto Catalyst. “In 10 years, it is my hope that it will be inconceivable that business will be done in any other way and all businesses will work to make the world a better place by making environmental and social responsibility an integral part of, and contributor to, business success. Real progress goes from the 'unthinkable to the impossible to the inevitable,' and for many today we are at the 'impossible' stage, but it will soon be 'inevitable.’”

Specific goals, as stated in the articles of incorporation for DanoneWave are:

  • to encourage dietary practices in line with Danone’s longstanding mission to “bring health through food to as many people as possible,” and
  • to promote a model of sustainable growth with a view to creating economic and social value in the interest of key stakeholders such as employees, customers and suppliers, and minimizing the impact of its activities on the environment.

Advisory Committee

To add to the new company’s governance and to foster diversity of ideas and benefit from experienced leaders in health and sustainability, DanoneWave has formed an advisory committee, comprised of external thought leaders and chaired by Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia, which was established as the first benefit corporation in California in 2012.

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“We want to share how to transform a conventional business model to ensure that every decision we make as business leaders reinforces our commitment not only to generating profit for our shareholders, but equally so to the environment, our workers, our customers and our communities,” Marcario said. “And in the end, profits can and will still be made, perhaps at greater levels than ever before, as in Patagonia’s case.”.

Other advisory committee members, each appointed to a three-year term, are: Michelle Goolsby, venture partner of Greenmont Capital Partners and board chair of Vitamin Angels; Mac Macartney, author, speaker and change-maker; Simin Meydani, D.V.M., Ph. D., Vice Provost for Research at Tufts University; Emeran Mayer, MD, PhD, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; and Marcello Palazzi of B-Lab Europe.

Among the responsibilities of the advisory committee are: analyzing potential evolutions for the businesses of DanoneWave; proposing strategies for DanoneWave in line with its purpose; reviewing the application of the ethical rules of Danone by DanoneWave, in particular in relation to employees, partners, suppliers, customers, and consumers; and reviewing DanoneWave’s policies and impact regarding nutrition and public health, environmental issues, and inclusion and diversity, including gender equality.

Danone, the parent company of DanoneWave, will also continue working with B Lab to design a roadmap for certification and intends to pursue B Corp certification for DanoneWave by 2020.

"The creation of DanoneWave as a benefit corporation on its first day demonstrates that size is not a barrier to corporate governance that accounts for the interests of all stakeholders. This is an important next step for Danone, which has been a strong partner in our efforts to create a path for companies with complex, international businesses to develop deep legal and operational frameworks to create both economic and social value,” said Bart Houlahan, co-founder of B Lab. “We look forward to continued collaboration with Danone and now DanoneWave to inspire other businesses to accelerate this movement's growth into the mainstream."

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